WASHINGTON -- Reports filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Wednesday show a closer fundraising race in the month of May between Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama than previously reported.
Less than two weeks ago, a release from the campaign of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney showed Romney and the Republican National Committee (RNC) had raised a combined $76.8 million to beat the $60 million reportedly raised by Obama and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in May.
The Romney campaign reported Wednesday that it raised $23.4 million in May and the RNC reported raising an eye-popping $34.2 million. The Obama campaign reported raising $39.1 million in May and the DNC reported taking in $19.9 million. That leaves Obama and the DNC with a total of $59.1 million raised, and Romney and the RNC with $57.6 million -- $19.2 million less than reported earlier in June.
A missing piece to the Romney equation helps to explain the disparity. As The Huffington Post reported in May, the Romney campaign is raising money through a joint fundraising committee called Romney Victory that won't disclose its full donations and transfers until July 15.
The committee can collect contributions as high as $75,000 from a single person, but individuals can only give a maximum of $30,800 to the RNC and $5,000 to Romney's campaign. The rest of that $75,000 gets distributed to a collection of party committees focused on congressional elections and state party committees, none of which are directly focused on the presidential election. These contributions, which have little to no bearing on the presidential race, are being counted as contributions raised by Romney and the RNC.
Both the Romney campaign and the RNC received their first infusion from the Romney Victory committee covering contributions from both April and May. The transfers were significant: Romney received $7.1 million and the RNC received a whopping $25.9 million. None of the other committees registered to receive funds from the Victory committee reported receiving contributions transferred from the committee in May.
An official with the Romney campaign tells The Huffington Post that the $19.2 million, the disparity between what the campaign said it and the RNC raised, and what they reported raising to the FEC in May, was raised by Romney Victory. The official also said that the $19.2 million would not be transferred to non-presidential committees. It is unclear what specific part of the presidential race it will fund.
The Obama campaign, which raised $39 million in May, reported spending a remarkable $44 million in the same month. That spending is $2 million more than the campaign spent in the previous three months combined and amounts to a burn rate of $1.43 million per day.
Romney's campaign spent far less than the president, dropping only $15.6 million in May. That is a burn rate of only $504,177 per day.
The big difference between the spending by the two campaigns: advertising. The Obama camp spent $28.9 million on media buys in May compared to the $4.45 million expended by the Romney campaign. That spending disparity is also noticeable in online advertising. Romney only spent $1.28 million on online ads compared to $5.38 million from Obama in May.
Fundraising for the Obama campaign was up from April, when the campaign pulled in $25.7 million, and above its previous high-water mark of $35 million raised in March. The boost in fundraising came from donors giving at all levels, although for the first time in the 2012 cycle small donor giving, those giving less than $200 in aggregate, fell below 40 percent of the campaign's total fundraising.
These small donors gave $13.5 million to the campaign in May, which accounts for 38 percent of the campaign's total. This could likely be a positive for Obama as more of the donors who previously gave less than $200 in aggregate have moved above that $200 threshold and are now being listed in the campaign's report. There were more than 140,000 itemized contributions of less than $200 to the campaign in May totaling $6.45 million.
Big donors continued to be Romney's major source of money while small donors remained a rough point for the campaign. Donations of $2,500 or more exceeded 50 percent of the total raised by the Romney campaign with $12.84 million coming from these big donors. Small donors, those giving under $200, gave only $4.1 million, or 17 percent of the total, to the campaign.