Romney has raised more money than Obama for three months in a row, but those aggregate numbers hide an advantage for the president: Obama has more money in his own campaign account and less in his party’s. That gives him more say over the funds because under federal law, a candidate can tell the party how to spend a portion of its money, but the rest must be spent independently of the candidate’s control.
“When you just look at the amount of money, Romney has an edge,” said Michael Malbin, executive director of the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute. “But if you look at the pockets that it’s sitting in, it looks as if the president has a kind of tactical advantage.”
In addition, Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said that the president’s campaign is in good shape for the fall because of “the unparalleled ground organization we’re building — which can’t be replicated in the time remaining.”
Both candidates are soliciting donations of up to $70,000 from individuals, but campaign finance law dictates that most of that money goes to their parties. Obama’s campaign has also aggressively pursued smaller contributions, those under the $5,000 limit that one person can give to a campaign. That has put more of what he has raised into his campaign account.
Romney has generated less enthusiasm from small donors, although he may see a boost this month after choosing as his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), a political star favored by the Republican base who has been successful in pulling in small donations for his House campaign.
Another reason for Romney’s growing advantage is that Obama’s campaign has been spending heavily on television advertising in recent months, including $40 million in July.
By comparison, Romney spent $16 million on ads last month. He has been able to spend less because he is getting more help from independent groups that are running ads on his behalf, including super PACs, which are not bound by contribution limits. In July, for example, the pro-Romney Restore Our Future PAC raised $2 million from Texas home builder Bob Perry and $1 million from the Renco Group, a New York company run by billionaire Ira Rennert, according to disclosure reports.