WASHINGTON -- On a conference call with reporters this morning, Barack Obama's 2012 reelection campaign touted the their second-quarter fundraising numbers, the number of individual donors and amount of grassroots support for the campaign.
Campaign manager Jim Messina called the first weeks of the campaign, "a test of our grassroots strength, and the results are in." The reelection effort, he added, had 552,462 individual donors -- more than the total it received in all of 2007. Of those donors more than 260,000 were "completely new to the Obama organization."
"This should end any Washington chatter on whether our grassroots base will be engaged," Messina added.
The fundraising numbers offered more than just a chance for the Obama re-election team to tout its enduring support and wide-ranging reach. It also gave them an opportunity to create contrasts with those in the Republican primary field.
"Given the lack of grassroots enthusiasm surrounding some of the Republican candidates, it will be interesting to see to what extent they rely on special interest and Washington lobbyists to fund their campaigns," said Obama's campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt, speaking on the same conference call as Messina.
The campaign also called out the Republican field for the current unwillingness to disclose "bundlers" -- big-time campaign fundraisers who raise and pool donations.
"Just like in 2007 and 2008, we will disclose the names of major fundraisers for the campaign on Friday when we file," said LaBolt. "Anyone who has raised over $50,000 for the campaign will be disclosed, just like they were in 2008. President [George W.] Bush disclosed his bundlers. None of the GOP candidates in the race have committed to disclosing their bundlers and they are all accepting donations from special interest PACs and Washington lobbyists."
While the campaign presented its second-quarter numbers in glowing terms (while lowering expectations for their third-quarter haul), the details of the fundraising effort have the potential to tell a slightly different story. For starters, it's unclear how many one-time Obama bundlers have yet to write checks for his reelection campaign. Second, the idea that the grassroots element of the campaign is alive and vibrant has already come under scrutiny.
On the conference call, Messina noted that the average donation size to the campaign was $69 during this fundraising quarter. However, because $38 million of the $86 million raised came from the Democratic National Committee via the "Obama Victory Fund" -- a joint fundraising committee that Obama controls -- the actual average donation is higher: $88.
(At OVF fundraisers, a donor can give up to $5,000 to the presidential campaign committee and another $30,800 to the DNC.)
Michael Malbin of the Campaign Finance Institute, told TechPresident, "We can bet that most of the party money came from people who maxed out..."
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