WASHINGTON -- As he remains stuck in a four-way race for the Republican presidential nomination, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's financial advantage is beginning to erode. His campaign raised only $6.4 million in the month of January, one of his worst fundraising months of his entire 2012 campaign. By comparison, in January 2008, during Romney's first unsuccessful presidential bid, he raised $9.6 million.
Romney may have a bigger problem on his hands than disappointing fundraising totals. His campaign burned through $18.7 million in January, only to win primaries in New Hampshire and Florida. Romney's losing streak continued into February, as he weathered three losses to the surging Rick Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri.
Romney's fundraising and burn rate should both be causes for concern for his campaign. While small donors accounted for 18 percent of his January total, the highest percentage during his entire campaign so far, he is still relying heavily on donors who are maxing out their contributions. Fifty percent of his January contributions came from donors giving $2,500 or more.
With a long road ahead in the Republican primary race and thousands of donors already maxing out, Romney will need to expand his fundraising base -- otherwise he will be forced to dip into his personal fortune, as he did in 2008. The fact that Romney has faced the same problem during both his presidential campaigns suggests that his record has made him unpopular with grassroots conservative donors.
The biggest cause of the campaign's high burn rate was television advertising. The campaign spent $8.4 million on ads in January, the majority of which it spent in Florida, where Romney was able to come from behind in the polls to pull off a victory.
None of the other Republican candidates came close to spending as much as the Romney campaign in January, yet two of them -- Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich -- bested him in important contests during that month. Both candidates also came close to raising the same amount as Romney did.
Gingrich raised $5.5 million and Santorum pulled in $4.5 million in January. Both of these amounts made for the best fundraising months for both candidates. Santorum's January haul was more than the total amount he had previously raised during his campaign. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who has yet to win a contest, continued to raise money at about the same pace that he did in 2011 netting $4.5 million.
Gingrich and Santorum were both able to appeal to the grassroots conservatives who haven't been giving to Romney. Santorum raised 57 percent of his total from donors giving under $200, and Gingrich raised 46 percent of his total from those donors.
While Romney's January fundraising totals were disappointing, he continues to receive support from his allied super PAC, which is able to tap into his maxed out donors to procure additional funding for his campaign. The group, called Restore Our Future, out-raised Romney's campaign in January, pulling in $6.6 million. The group spent $13.9 million, almost entirely on television ads.
Romney also maintained a cash on hand advantage over his competition. He had $7.6 million in the bank at the end of January, while the other three candidates all had slightly more than $1 million on hand.