It seems like things have quieted down a bit on the presidential election scene for the moment. Is this lull due to the candidates’ and political action committees’ submission of their numbers pertaining to how much they have raised and spent this campaign season? Is this the quiet before the storm as new strategies are created concerning political fundraising?
Reuters posted these incredible numbers this past Saturday which breaks down the incoming and outgoing figures of the aspiring presidential hopefuls and their PAC backers up until March 31. These numbers reflect the FEC filings and include total contributions received along with amount spent regarding operating and independent expenditures.
In the lead with $147.4 million raised is President Obama. His high-priced banquets, online fundraising appeals, and various speaking engagements have won the hearts and dollars of countless Americans. While his PAC, Priorities USA, is far from the lead raising a mere $8.8 million, Obama has shown that his ability to raise dollars is not dependent on others.
In second place is hardly a surprise: Republican candidate Mitt Romney. With $87.5 million raised and $77.5 million spent, Romney is far behind in dollars but not in support. His PAC, Restore Our Future, has been a powerhouse contributor adding $51.9 million to his campaign efforts.
According to CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser, the Romney campaign said that 84% of all donations received through the end of last month were $250 or less. The Obama campaign announced that 97% of their donations were for $250 or less.
While the two other Republican candidates have raised considerably less (Newt Gingrich has raised $22.5 million and Ron Paul $35.9 million), their numbers are still quite respectable.
Holly Bailey from The Ticket reports that Romney’s campaign “hopes to raise $500 million in high-dollar donations for the campaign and for the joint fundraising account it has set up with the Republican National Committee. Romney aides hope to bring in another $300 million from small donors—an area where the former Massachusetts governor has lagged during the GOP primary.” It is also estimated that his PAC will raise “$200 million to support his general election bid—bringing the GOP’s overall fundraising target to at least $1 billion to defeat Obama.”
In response, “Obama aides estimated the president would raise at least $750 million for his re-election bid—though that total is now likely to be far more given that Obama has signed off on several Democratic super PACs to raise and spend millions to help him win a second term… Obama enters the general election with a major fundraising advantage. Through February, Obama had raised nearly $160 million for his re-election campaign—not including another $126 million he’s raised for a joint fundraising account between his campaign and the Democratic National Committee.”
The numbers are high and continue to grow. With a little over six months until the election, it will be interesting to see the tactics used in the attempt to secure the Oval Office. Undoubtedly more events, debates, and social media fundraising are in the future.
The other day on TechPresident.com, Micah L. Sirfry discussed the interesting argument on whether or not the media is inflating the impact that social media is having on the upcoming presidential election.
From followers “liking” candidates on Facebook to online fundraising contributions, is the action on the web really influencing the race to the Oval Office? Does every person on Twitter equate to a ballot submitted on Election Day?
Sirfy states that, “Politics isn’t only about voting; it’s more deeply about organizing to get and keep power. And the evidence that social media is helping organized groups get more power–sometimes more than their raw numbers might get them at the ballot box–is staring us in the face.”
At Fundly, we would have to agree with Sirfy. At the end of the 2010 election cycle, 120 political customers were using Fundly to raise money and currently our numbers show 10 times that amount. The campaigns have ranged from local races to the presidential efforts of Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and a Newt Gingrich PAC. Candidates also successfully raised $71 million for the 2010 midterm elections.
Now let’s move beyond dollars. Sirfy brings up the interesting point that the nomination for the Republican presidential candidate is still up in the air in large part because of the role that social media is playing in creating factions among the conservative party. There are dozens of groups on Facebook that are backing the politician of their choice and there is even a social network that has more than 168,000 users who are largely beyond the control of any Republican organization.
In an ironic turn of the internet, not only is technology bringing more people of like-mindedness together, it is dividing the GOP. While the Republican Party is getting a ton of press for the Super PACs that are changing the landscape of political fundraising, an arsenal of small donors are also equipping the candidates with the funds to pursue the office of Commander in Chief. “On Fundly, a social fundraising site, the Rick Santorum page has nearly 3,000 donors who have built personal fundraising pages generating an average of about $80 each. By contrast, Romney has two donors who have created personal fundraising pages on the site, one of whom is his son Tagg” sites Sirfry.
So let’s get back to the original question at hand: do high numbers on Facebook equal high numbers of voters at the polls?
When so many people have invested their time, finances and opinions concerning the political scene, I can’t imagine them abandoning the cause at the apex of the battle.
Read the TechPresident.com article here: How Social Media is Keeping the GOP Primary Going
As a nonprofit organization it’s hard not to think about how the new president will affect the philanthropic world. Will the impending Commander in Chief cut back government spending impacting the poor, the arts and education? Will increased income tax reduce donor giving levels? Will privacy and copyright law proposals concerning the internet return therefore limiting online fundraisers? What priority do these candidates place on the nonprofit world?
The presidential hopefuls have released their recent tax returns and their charitable giving is quite impressive. According to CNN reporter Charles Riley, in 2010 President Obama donated $245,075, or 14.2% of his $1.7 million income, Romney donated almost $3 million, or 13.8% of his income, while Gingrich gave $81,133, or 2.6% of his income to charity. (On a side note, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul have yet to release their tax returns.)
“Romney and Obama are very generous charity-wise,” said CharityWatch president Daniel Borochoff. Gingrich is still doing pretty well, but Borochoff said his giving level is “more like an average donor for the income.”
So what charities are benefitting from these generous donors? In 2011, the Romney’s gave $2.6 million in cash contributions to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and in 2010 they gave $1.5 million. The Romneys also have a foundation that they started called the Tyler Foundation in which they filtered money to other charitable organizations such as Harvard Business School, City Year, the George W. Bush Library and the Boys and Girls Club of Boston to name a few. The Obama’s spread their generosity to groups ranging from the American Red Cross, the University of Hawaii foundation, the National AIDS Fund and the Greater New Orleans Foundation. On Gingrich’s tax returns , it was unclear as to what organizations he delegated his funds to other than $9,540 to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.
Honestly, the amount of giving is quite impressive but the fact that these presidential nominees are so generous does not surprise me. After all, isn’t being president like being the ultimate public servant? He has the interests of the country at heart, he needs public approval to achieve his goals and he has to love people to interact with so many with varying and diverse backgrounds.
I am in the silent majority: I am part of a two income family, I have an upside down mortgage and we are putting off buying that new car for yet another year. As I watch the progression of the 2012 presidential election and the financial reports that are being gathered, my mind is blown away at the magnitude of dollars being raised.
As I read articles commenting on President Obama’s $35,000 per ticket fundraisers (yikes, that could buy me a nice new car) to the donations raised for the candidates who have dropped out of the election, it seems there is plenty of money out there for political fundraising.
Midnight on Tuesday marked the filing deadline for campaign reports and here are the current statistics according to USA Today: Barack Obama has currently raised $139,526,311 (which includes contributions from individuals, loans, political action committee (PAC) contributions and other income). 41.9% of his donations are from small contributions under $200. Mitt Romney is in second place with $57,112,767 and 9.2% of that amount has come from small contributions. Ron Paul is next in line with $26,104,721 coming in from donor support (52% from small contributions). Newt Gingrich follows with $12,733,254 raised (49.2% from small contributions) and finally Rick Santorum brings up the rear with $2,184,953 (32.3% from small contributions).It is also interesting to note that the total amount raised for Republican candidates equals almost $157 million which exceeds Obama’s numbers (even if it took nine candidates to do it).
I am really impressed with the percentage of small contributions that make up almost half of many of the candidates’ fundraising bank accounts. With this being the first presidential election fully using the power of social media, I must say that I believe much of this financial support is due to this surge in technology. While the PACs are flexing their financial power, the individual small contributors seem to be holding their own.
Social media fundraising has never been easier, and Fundly is making strides in bridging the gap between casual internet use and donor involvement. Between Facebook posts, live Tweets being shared during debates and the State of the Union Address and ads on the internet, candidates are reaching their supporters en masse and it seems to be paying off.
How many dollars does it take to win the Oval Office? That seems to be the billion dollar question of the hour. In a capitalist society, supporters plus donations can’t be entered into a well formulated calculation to determine the outcome of an election. However, if money makes the world go round, than campaign season must have the earth ready to spin off of its axis.
It’s clear that running for president must be one of the most expensive investments anyone could make. Time, money, energy and emotional stamina are all high costs for the candidates to imbue into any campaign to have even the slightest chance for victory. Mitt Romney is certainly paying his dues as his commitment to being a contender in the 2012 presidential is paying off as he leads the pack of GOP hopefuls.
Romney is currently at the top of the list of the six Republican presidential candidates and boasts of raising over $56 million dollars for his campaign, according to the New York Times ($24 million came in during the last three months of 2011). GooglePost.com states that, “Romney drew in $24 million in the fourth quarter of 2011 alone and is going into the new year with more than $19 million cash on hand. Romney’s fundraising figures dwarfs the other Republican presidential candidates in comparison… Rivals Texas Rep. Ron Paul collected $13 million in the fourth quarter while former House speaker Newt Gingrich raised $9 million.”
So with an unrivaled amount of fundraising numbers from other GOP contenders, it seems like Romney’s biggest obstacle to the White House would be the incumbent who has currently raised approximately $88 million according to opensecrets.com.
How does Romney’s fundraising savvy compete with recent history candidates? “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),” explains a report in The Washington Post.
While Barrack Obama still may lead the pack in political fundraising, it seems that Romney is up to the challenge for competing for funds. Both are mastering the skills it takes to garner online support and both are using social media in the political realm like never before.
The Wall Street Journal has published a couple of insightful articles pertaining to Mitt Romney and his position in the 2012 Presidential Election. Although his numbers seem to be stuck at the polls with approximately one quarter of the Republican presidential-primary vote, they haven’t fluctuated like many of his colleagues. Romney also is dominating Wall Street in the fundraising department above his fellow Republican candidates; not too shabby.
Gerald Seib, WSJ Washington Bureau Chief, in a Wall Street Journal video clip states that “Romney support is broader than it seems.” Seib calls Romney the “Steady Eddie of American Politics right now… there’s a core that’s sticking with Mitt Romney and frankly it’s probably enough to get him a nomination at the end.” Although Romney isn’t the first choice for many Republicans, he is usually their second choice and that seems to be a strong enough compromise within the party.
Secondly, Romney is in the lead for Republican financial support on Wall Street. Brody Mullins and Danny Yadron write in the WSJ that “latest available data shows the former Massachusetts governor cast a wider net while dominating the race for Wall Street, the single largest source of campaign cash in presidential elections.
“A quarter of the biggest donors to Mr. Romney’s campaign are hedge fund managers, investment bankers and others on Wall Street, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of more than 10,000 individuals who donated the maximum amount allowed to the presidential candidates so far this year.”
In this race to the White House, it seems like Romney is going to be a strong contender on behalf of the Republican Party. He has a strong supporter base across age groups, has the financial backing to continue on the road to the election, and he is a good middle ground politician for the GOP to agree upon.