Fundraiser-in-chief: Mitt Romney vs Barack Obama

at 12:04 PM ET, 08/07/2012

In 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama raked in $750 million, shattering fundraising records and earning a reputation as the single best fundraiser in the history of American politics.

Now, Obama faces the very real prospect that he will be outraised (and outspent) in this election by former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

So how does Romney’s fundraising to date stack up with that of Obama during his 2008 campaign? We break it down after the jump.

Looking at total contributions for Obama, the Obama Victory Fund, the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic White House Victory Fund versus Romney, the Republican National Committee and the Romney Victory Fund, here’s what we came up with:

Romney’s joint committee with the RNC, the Romney Victory Fund, files quarterly rather than monthly. So to get those numbers, we subtracted the RNC and Romney campaign numbers from the candidate’s total announced haul. FEC reports for July are not yet available, so we attributed the whole sum to Romney, although presumably it is divided along similar lines to previous months.

When Obama was running in 2008 he did not include Democratic National Committee or joint fundraising money in his announcements, although he did include transfers from those committees — that’s why the Obama totals here are sometimes a bit lower than what he announced in 2008. The $750 million he raised through his official campaign committee alone. If you added in the other Democratic committees his total would have been over a billion dollars.

Joint committees between candidates and the parties, such as the Obama Victory Fund and the Romney Victory Fund, can take in far more money from one individual than the candidates themselves can. That money is then divided between the candidate and various state parties according to FEC limits, but it allows big donors to write one big check. Only $21.7 million of party money can be spent in coordination with the candidate; the rest must be spent independently.

Romney started benefiting from joint fundraising this April, while Obama’s 2008 primary did not wrap up until June, meaning his ability to raise money as the (un)official party nominee didn’t begin until then. The Democratic White House Victory Fund was set up in May by then-DNC Chair Howard Dean to close some of the gap, but it was not a huge money-maker. A fourth big donor Obama joint fund, the Committee for Change, did not get going until after July.

Roll Call explains that the Romney Victory Fund is also moving money through non-competitive state parties, making it possible to raise beyond contribution limits. His fund can take more from one donor than Obama's could in 2008; Obama’s team upped its own contribution level in March.

Obama the candidate has continued to outraise Romney the candidate this cycle. (Check out this great Paul Blumenthal analysis.) But when you add in affiliated committees, Romney is opening up a sizable lead.

And that means, Romney will have more to spend in the race’s final three months and could well end up breaking Obama’s 2008 fundraising record.

 
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