President Obama’s re-election campaign reported Tuesday that it raised $42.8 million in the last three months. That’s a big number. He’ll no doubt need every dollar he can get with post-Citizens United campaign finance laws decidedly more limber and a host of moneyed interests looking to buoy the opposition. And so far, the President seems to be fully exploiting both the advantages of incumbency–after all, nothing attracts money like power–and the same allure with a wider Democratic base that fueled his 2008 campaign.
But wait, you say, what about the fact that he’s unpopular? It’s true that his job approval ratings are upside down, but as we’ve covered before, Obama remains very popular on the left, and those supporters are again providing him with a large amount of small donations. The precise breakdown for the third quarter won’t be available for another few days, but there’s enough out there to tell us that the small-dollar donors have not, in fact, been “Slow to Return to the Obama Fold.” According to the Obama campaign, some 600,000 people gave to the cause during this last reporting period at an average of $56 per donation. In the prior quarter, there were around 550,000 donors giving an average of $69. When the campaign filed with FEC, that worked out to be $22 million given in increments of $200 or less, almost half of the total haul.
Some context is in order. Consider this: Mitt Romney, the GOP’s fundraising juggernaut, claimed just 6% of his second-quarter intake from small-dollar donors. And during his groundswell campaign in 2007, then Senator Obama made headlines by drawing a little less than a third of his $33 million second-quarter haul from donations less than $200. Now Obama’s up around 50%.
Of course, the President is also getting a lot of money in big chunks from wealthy influentials–his combined $70 million third-quarter haul with the DNC is in no small part thanks to a cash infusion from the joint Obama Victory Fund, which collects huge bundles of checks from Wall Streeters, lawyers and Hollywood executives. But his small-dollar support is a demonstrable force, at least as much as last time.