Monday Fix: 2012 campaign fundraising winners and losers

Aaron Blake
Reporter July 17, 2011

Friday marked an important day in the 2012 campaign: It was when we learned just how much money every presidential, Senate and House candidate raised between April and June.

For almost every presidential hopeful, the second quarter was really the first quarter of fundraising. For congressional races, it was the first quarter for many new candidates and the time for incumbents to start raising money for their reelection bids.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog. View Archive

Who had a good quarter? Who had a bad one? We look at the winners and losers.

Winners

President Obama: His campaign managed an impressive PR campaign, after which Obama was given credit for $86 million raised — more than $47 million for his campaign and more than $38 million for the Democratic National Committee.

Lost in the shuffle is the fact that, even if you don’t include the money raised for the DNC (which is easier to bring in, given that there are much higher individual contribution limits), the $47 million Obama raised is still a record for the second quarter of a non-election year. The Obama fundraising machine of 2008 is officially back.

Mitt Romney: The former Massachusetts governor’s report could have been a disappointment had it not exceeded the competition by so much.

Even though he raised less than he did in his first quarter of fundraising in the 2008 presidential race, he brought in four times as much as any other Republican in the 2012 race. He also has more than three times as much cash on hand as any other Republican, and a “super PAC” raised $12 million in support of his bid.

Considering all that, it’s hard not to call him the front-runner.

Senate incumbents: When raising money, it helps to be the person who is already in office. And that was especially the case in the second quarter.

Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) and Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) all out-raised their opponents by more than two to one. The Nelsons, McCaskill and Brown are among the most vulnerable in the general election, while Lugar and Hatch face difficult GOP primaries.

Republican opponents to Ben Nelson and McCaskill turned in notably disappointing reports, giving the senators new life in two races that Republicans are counting on winning. Meanwhile, Lugar and Hatch each have about $3.5 million in the bank and have major cash advantages over Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), respectively. (Chaffetz is not officially a Senate candidate.)

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.): The House Budget Committee chairman became a key Democratic target after writing a budget proposal that would turn Medicare into a voucher program, and Democrats soon began hyping his opponent, businessman Rob Zerban.

In the end, though, Ryan raised almost $900,000 — a nearly unheard-of number for a House candidate — while Zerban raised only about $100,000 and self-funded an additional $120,000.

Losers

The rest of the Republican presidential field: In the second quarter of 2007, three GOP candidates raised more than $10 million. This time, only one contender — Romney — raised more than $5 million.

Totals reported by former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty ($4.5 million), Rep. Michele Bachmann ($4.2 million) and Herman Cain ($2.5 million) were all either less than expected or relatively weak showings. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, meanwhile, has much more debt ($1 million) than cash ($322,000).

For Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who is a proven fundraiser, the race looks a lot more appealing since these numbers came out.

Sarah Palin: The former Alaska governor’s popularity has been eroding in the polls, and now her fundraising is drying up a bit, too.

Palin is not a candidate, so she has only a political action committee — money that can’t be used if she jumps into the race. But even considering that, she raised just $1.6 million in the first six months of 2011, and that’s not the pace of someone who is building up a legitimate presidential fundraising operation.

House GOP freshmen: After getting off to a slow start in the first quarter, many of the most vulnerable Republican freshmen continued to put off fundraising for their first reelection campaigns.

Rep. David Rivera (Fla.) pulled in $34,000 as he faces ethics questions. Reps. Tom Marino (Pa.), Daniel Webster (Fla.), Ann Marie Buerkle (N.Y.) and Mike Kelly (Pa.) each raised less than $125,000, while Reps. Dan Benishek (Mich.), Jon Runyan (N.J.) and Scott R. Tipton (Colo.) each raised less than $150,000.

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