Mitt Romney said Wednesday that he had raised $24 million in the final three months of 2011, an announcement designed to further the sense within the GOP that the former Massachusetts governor is the all-but-inevitable Republican nominee.

And, it almost certainly will do that. But how does Romney’s fourth quarter stack up against the fundraising totals of some of the better-known (and financed) presidential candidates of recent vintage?

We crunched the numbers. (And, yes we wore a green eyeshade while doing it.) Here’s the comparison:

Romney’s fourth quarter total is competitive with what then-Sens. Hillary Clinton ($27 million) and Barack Obama ($23.5 million) brought in over the final three months of 2007 and dwarfs the amount that eventual GOP nominee John McCain raised during that period ($10 million). Romney also raised more in the final quarter of 2011 than then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush did in the final three months of 1999 ($11 million).

Interestingly, Romney’s 2011 fourth quarter haul is less than the $27 million he raised in the final three months of 2007 — although an asterisk is necessary there since $18 million of his ‘07 total came in the form of a personal donation. He has yet to make any personal loans in this race.

If Romney’s fourth quarter fundraising looks impressive when compared to some of the best funded campaign in recent memory, his total take for the year fares less well.

Only McCain in 2007 ($40 million) raised less than Romney ($56 million) in 2011. In 1999, Bush raked in $69 million while Clinton ($118 million) and Obama ($103.5 million) both crested the $100 million mark in the off year of 2007. Bush holds the record for off-year fundraising, bringing in $132.5 million in 2003, but that came as a sitting incumbent, making it something of an apples-to-oranges comparison.

Of course, Romney doesn’t have to run against the fundraising titans of elections past. At least in the GOP primary, he has to run against a field that, aside from him, is remarkably under-financed.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who is the only one within shouting distance of Romney financially in this election, brought in $13 million over the final three months of 2011, while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich raised $9 million. Texas Gov. Rick Perry raised upwards of $17 million between July 1 and Sept. 30 but, due to his lackluster performance on the campaign trail, is sure to have seen a significant drop-off in the final three months of 2011.

Romney’s financial might in the race — particularly when coupled with his cash-flush super PAC — makes it very difficult for any of the non-Romneys to make the case in South Carolina, Florida and beyond that a choice remains in the race.

Mitt’s fundraising might — not to mention his sweep of the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary — is why the smart money is being bet on him to be the Republican standard-bearer against Obama this fall.

Mormons love Romney, less keen on Huntsman: A new survey of American Mormons by the Pew Research Center shows more than 8 in 10 view Romney favorably, but only five in 10 view Jon Huntsman favorably.

Romney gets the support of 86 percent of Mormons, while Huntsman gets just 50 percent. What’s more, even though Huntsman isn’t as well-known, his unfavorable rating (24 percent) is more than twice Romney’s (10 percent).

One might surmise that’s because Huntsman has blazed a more moderate path than Romney. The survey shows Mormons are very socially conservative, with nearly two-thirds saying homosexuality should not be accepted in society and about three-quarters saying abortion and sex before marriage are wrong.

Not surprisingly, Mormons lean heavily toward the Republican Party, with 66 percent describing themselves as “conservative” and 74 percent expressing some affinity with the GOP.

What they don’t like: Democrats. Just 25 percent rate Obamafavorably, and Mormon Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) favorable/unfavorable split is 22 percent/51 percent.

Despite asserting themselves in Senate leadership and the GOP presidential race, Mormons comprise just 2 percent of Americans.

Hoekstra raises $1 million: Former congressman Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) continues to raise money at a strong clip for his Senate campaign, bringing in $1 million in the fourth quarter, The Fix has learned.

The total matches his haul from the third quarter and should continue to put to rest questions about Hoekstra’s proficiency on the fundraising front. The national GOP has high hopes for Hoekstra’s campaign against Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), but he hadn’t previously shown himself to be a strong fundraiser — particularly in his failed 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

Hoekstra outraised primary opponent Clark Durant by about $400,000. Durant pulled in $600,000 for the quarter and has raised $1.35 million overall, compared to $2 million for Hoekstra.

Stabenow has not announced her fundraising numbers.


Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) endorses Romney. And so does former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.

Former Utah House speaker David Clark (R) joins the race for the state’s open 2nd congressional district.

The Republican National Committee has named Bettina Inclan as its new Hispanic outreach director.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is getting strong reviews back home. But his cousin won’t run against freshman Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.).

Former state representative John Loughlin (R) drops out of the GOP primary to face embattled Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), clearing the way for former state police superintendent Brendan Doherty (R).


Struggling, Perry Finds Place Where His Message Sticks” — Richard A. Oppel Jr., New York Times

First lady rejects White House drama” — Krissah Thompson, Washington Post

Romney’s playing to win the GOP, but the general election is another game” — Dan Balz, Washington Post

PAC ads adding confusion” — T.W. Farnam, Washington Post