Obama Outraises Top Three Republicans

A front-page story in today’s WaPo puts the fundraising totals announced earlier this week into sharper focus:

Campaign contributors to the 2008 presidential candidates heavily favored Democrats in the three-month period that ended Saturday, giving three dollars to the party’s leading contenders for every two dollars they gave to the top Republican candidates.

Democratic Sen. Barack Obama’s 258,000 contributors since January exceed the combined number of donors of former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), according to estimates provided by the campaigns.

This just further highlights Obama’s extraordinary success in fundraising, especially given that Hillary Clinton is the clear frontrunner and that donors face serious risks in alienating her. I’m less sure what it says about the Republican field.

The fundraising results continued a striking reversal of fortunes for Democratic presidential hopefuls, who have often labored with less money than their Republican counterparts.

“Clearly, that’s a reflection on the war and a reflection of the past,” said Alex Castellanos, Romney’s media consultant. “There’s a lot of pent-up disappointment in the Republican Party on issues like spending. It’s not just the administration, being unable to keep its promises . . . since we’re the guys in charge, we pay a price for that.”

That’s almost surely right. The immigration bill in particular has angered the base. The “Amnesty Bill = No $$$” card a reader sent Michelle Malkin likely reflected a sentiment shared by many.

At the same time, this is the primaries and, despite it seeming that the race has been going on forever, it’s still very early in the process. The Democratic race seems to have already narrowed to two candidates and, by most indications, the base seems reasonably happy with one or the other. And there’s always Al Gore if the wheels fall off of the Clinton or Obama bandwagons. By contrast, the Republican field is much wider open, with early frontrunner John McCain seemingly on the verge of implosion and a search for “someone else” — seemingly focusing on Fred Thompson at the moment — still ongoing.

It stands to reason, then, that money would be flowing to the Democrats and not to the Republicans. People satisfied with the alternatives tend to get excited, whereas those still playing the field are more likely to hold back.

If the Republican race narrows to Rudy Giuliani and Thompson, as appears likely (although I still wouldn’t bet on that) then the money will pour in from those with a strong preference for one or the other. More importantly, when the nominees of the two parties become inevitable, and it comes down to Clinton-Giuliani or Clinton-Thompson or whatever, the Republican base will get energized to ensure that Clinton, Obama, Gore, or whomever the Democrats nominate won’t get elected.

I’m not willing to make too many predictions about 2008 at this early stage of the game. Of, this, however, I’m confident: Raising enough money won’t be an obstacle to either party’s nominee.

Hat tip: Political Wire

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Eric J says:

    I think the Democrats have a larger number of “true believers” for a single candidate who will donate in the primaries and won’t donate for the general election if their candidate doesn’t win.

    I think in the Republican field, there are a lot of, say, Romney supporters who could live with a Thompson or Giuliani administration, and will be willing to get behind the eventual nominee. That would tend to depress primary fundraising. (In addition to those who may be saving their money for a Thompson run, but want to wait until he’s declared.)

    It’ll also be interesting to see what 529s play a large role in the post-primary campaign.

  2. just me says:

    I think Eric makes a good point-I think there are a lot of “not sure who to support” people on the GOP side of the primary. Shoot I am one of those. While there are some I could live with, I can’t say I have found any one candidate that I am passionate about and really want to see win. People like me aren’t going to be so quick to write checks or even donate time, but will do so, when there is either a nominee, or a nominee really rises to the forefront to get behind.

    I think at this point it is a two person race on the democratic side-either Obama or Hillary.

    The GOP field is still pretty wide open-I think there are definite candidates that are already out, but there are several that are in that “who knows once the voting starts.” Afterall, the predictions before the primary season started in the fall of 2003 was that Howard Dean was going to be the nominee-it didn’t take long for his campaign to implode.

  3. jeff b says:

    The Republicans are going to have to come to a realization that all of the present candidates are 3rd-tier trash. McCain is like Clinton and Lieberman: none of them believe in anything other than their own aggrandizement. Giuliani is mobbed up, has dozens of ex-wives and ex-girlfriends, took a lot of bribes on the side as mayor, and doesn’t even have the support of the FDNY. Mitt Romney has no beliefs whatsoever. He has taken both sides of every major issue. He routinely insults the people of the state where he was governor. And it turns out that there aren’t as many Mormons willing to chip in for his phoney campaign as he thought there would be.

  4. jeff b says:

    I right, I almost forgot to mention the freeper deus ex machina Fred Thompson. Have you seen this man speak in public? He has no clue about anything. Sunni vs. Shiite or Big Mac vs. Whopper. Thompson just doesn’t know.

  5. Michael says:

    I think the Democrats have a larger number of “true believers” for a single candidate who will donate in the primaries and won’t donate for the general election if their candidate doesn’t win.

    Maybe true, but one interesting this about Obama’s “true believers” is that they haven’t reached their maximum donation amount yet, meaning that later in the primary (and the general if he wins) Obama can come back to them for more, instead of having to constantly find new donors. Obama is essentially establishing a funding “customer base”, instead of burning through donors and having to replace them.

  6. just me says:

    I will say that one thing Obama seems to have in and around NH is a pretty good grass roots support team.

    Almost every community event in the area has people in support of Obama out there wearing Obama shirts, passing out stickers/candy/other pro Obama stuff.

    He seems to inspire a lot of supporters around here-how well he holds up during the election, and whether he has any major mistakes is yet to be seen, but he isn’t screwing up when it comes to inspiring supporters and getting donations.

    About the only GOP candidate I have seen around here working crowds is Rudy-all the other candidates have absolutely no presense at all.