That financial advantage has been clear in states such as Michigan, Ohio and, now, Illinois, where Romney and an allied super PAC have outspent challenger Rick Santorum on the airwaves by a ratio of 7 to 1.
In Illinois and around the nation, Romney has built a web of campaign bundlers and other top fundraisers that stands to rival Obama’s, with more than 500 supporters who have raised at least $10,000 for the campaign, according to a review of fundraising invitations, state finance committee lists and other reports.
The top ranks are dominated by hedge-fund managers, bank executives and other members of the financial industry, along with a significant number of energy executives, real estate developers and other business owners, the review shows. The numbers are imprecise because, unlike Obama, Romney has declined to release a list of his top bundlers, who host fundraising events and help collect checks for the campaign.
More than three dozen of Romney’s biggest fundraisers are in the financial hub of Chicago, where a cross section of the city’s business elite has rallied around the former private-equity manager as the best candidate to beat Obama in the fall.
Romney’s relative success in attracting moneyed backers in Chicago is particularly striking given Obama’s roots in the city and his overwhelming popularity in Illinois. At least a dozen of Romney’s top Illinois bundlers supported Obama in 2008, but have turned on the president over his handling of the economic recovery, Israel or other issues.
Goldman Sachs managing partner Muneer Satter and his wife, Kristen Hertel, donated more than $100,000 to Obama’s 2008 campaign and inaugural committee, for example, and also supported former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel’s mayoral bid in Chicago. But Satter now serves as Romney’s finance chairman in Illinois, and the couple have given a combined $380,000 to a super PAC supporting the GOP candidate, records show.
Susan Crown, a philanthropist and member of the billionaire Crown family, has switched sides from supporting Obama in 2008 to backing Romney now, although some of her relatives remain Obama supporters. Crown said in an interview that she was prompted to support Romney after Obama spoke in favor of a return to 1967 borders with land swaps as part of a potential Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement.
“There are a lot of people here who are very disappointed in the president,” said Crown, who co-hosted a fundraiser for Romney last year with her husband. “Illinois is very important because it’s Barack Obama’s home state and it has a lot of independents. I’m an independent and I’m working as hard as I can for Mitt.”