July 10, 2012
Is the Obama campaign starting to panic? A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney locked in a tie, 47 percent to 47 percent among registered voters. And for the second month in a row, Romney’s campaign has outraised the Obama organization, this time by $35 million.
The Romney campaign announced on Monday that it raised a staggering $106 million in June in concert with the Republican National Committee, compared with only $71 million reported by Obama’s campaign aides and the Democratic National Committee. The $35 million gap is much larger than it was in May, when Romney and the GOP raised $17 million more than the Democratic side.
Obama on Tuesday morning sent out an urgent email alert to his political supporters with the ominous subject line, “I will be outspent.”
“We’re getting outraised – a first for a sitting president, if this continues,” the president said in the message. “Not just by the super PACs and outside groups that are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into misleading ads, but by our opponent and the Republican Party, which just outraised us for the second month in a row.”
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“We can win a race in which the other side spends more than we do,” Obama added. “But not this much more. So I need your help.”
There was a time when it looked as if Obama would repeat his dazzling fundraising performance of 2008, when he raised more than three quarters of a billion dollars – much of it generated by grassroots efforts – and outspent Republican John McCain by 2 to 1. But Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and Bain Capital executive, is proving to be a fundraising juggernaut who is threatening to leave the president in the dust.
Romney has relied more heavily than Obama on wealthy contributors who are able to give maximum contributions under federal law, according to a Washington Post analysis. His schedule has been loaded up with lavish, high-dollar fundraising events, including a June retreat in Park City, Utah, and a series of events in the Hamptons last weekend. Romney’s fast-growing campaign finance advantage is further magnified by the rising tide of spending by pro-Republican advocacy groups and Super-PACs that are bombarding the president with negative ads.
Obama said in his message to supporters that the 2012 election campaign will be a test of the model that helped him win election four years ago. “We'll learn whether it's still true that a grassroots campaign can elect a president – whether ordinary Americans are in control of our democracy in the face of massive spending,” he wrote. “I believe we can do this. When all of us chip in what we can, when we can, we are the most powerful force in politics.”
These shifting political fortunes have been driven by a sputtering economic recovery, an unemployment rate stubbornly stuck at 8.2 percent, raging political controversy over the president’s health care reform law, and high negative ratings of the president’s job performance.
The Washington Post-ABC News poll concluded that the Obama-Romney contest remains pretty much where it was back in late May, with the two men running neck and neck in a race likely to go down to the wire in November. The new poll found that the fundamentals of the campaign were fairly locked in place, with about two thirds of Americans convinced the country is seriously off course, a majority disapproving of Obama’s overall job performance, and Obama remaining in negative territory on dealing with the economy, health care and immigration.
Obama’s overall approval rating hasn’t budged since May, with 47 percent of voters approving and 49 percent disapproving. Yet the president has a clear advantage over Romney over which candidate has greater empathy for Americans facing economic problems and for standing up for his beliefs.
With the vast majority of Republicans and Democrats seemingly locked into their views, the outcome of the election likely will be decided by which party exhibits more enthusiasm for its candidate and turns out the vote on Election Day.