04/23/2012 04:20 pm ET

Mitt Romney Fundraising Weak In States Where He's Campaigned

WASHINGTON -- In many of the states in which he waged a vigorous primary campaign, Mitt Romney has failed to convert that direct contact with voters into campaign gold.

The former Massachusetts governor has fueled his White House ambitions with support from deep-pocketed donors in the traditional wealthy-donor states. But the extent to which he lacks a grassroots fundraising base is underscored by an analysis of his most recent campaign finance report filing.

During the month of March, Romney received just 112 reported contributions for a total of approximately $17,000 from sources who listed Iowa as their home state, despite having spent months of time and millions in resources participating in that state's caucus. By contrast, President Barack Obama, who maintains staff in the state but has himself visited irregularly, raised $95,269 from 897 Iowa donors last month.

The same dynamic held true in New Hampshire, where Romney has a vacation home. In March, the likely Republican presidential nominee received just 118 reported donations for a total of approximately $35,000 from sources inside the Granite State, despite having campaigned heavily to win the first-in-the-nation primary there. Obama raised $124,313 from 735 donors in New Hampshire during the same month.

South Carolina, which follows New Hampshire on the primary calendar, was only slightly more lucrative for the Romney campaign last month. A total of 188 reported donations were made to Romney from that state for a total of $61,000. Obama, by contrast, raised $92,836 from 900 donors inside the state.

Federal campaign finance law requires candidates to name only those donors who have contributed a cumulative total of more than $200 to their campaign, meaning that Romney and Obama likely received more small-donor money from these states than reported. In addition, there are some early-primary states from which Romney did draw financial support long after his campaign moved elsewhere.

During the month of March, he received 1,236 reported donations from sources in Florida for a total of $781,000 and 415 reported donations from sources in Michigan for a total of $158,000. Florida is a traditional target for politicians looking to raise cash, however, and Romney has personal ties to Michigan -- two alternative explanations for his healthy hauls in those locales.

A look at all the state-by-state data shows that Romney's fundraising team has largely turned its attention away from places where the former governor spent time campaigning and on to states with established bases of wealthy campaign funders.

In California, Romney picked up $2.3 million from 2,959 reported donations during March. The president did slightly better with respect to the amount raised -- $2.9 million -- and demonstrably better with the number of donations -- 20,646.

In New York, Romney raised $1.05 million from 1,038 reported donations during March. Once again, Obama did better in terms of money raised -- $1.8 million -- and much better with the number of contributions -- 12,287.

In Texas, Romney raised $1.32 million from 1,431 reported donations. He bested Obama in terms of money raised but not in number of contributors: Obama brought in $1.05 million from 7,082 donors.

During the entire campaign, Romney has raised $9.74 million from California donors, $9.2 million from New York donors and $4.9 million from Texas donors. Those three states account for more than one out of every four dollars of individual contributions to his campaign.

That Romney is leaning on rich-donor states to propel his campaign is hardly shocking. "It's the Willie Sutton rule of campaign finance," explained Sheila Krumholz of the Center for Responsive Politics. "You go where the money is."

But to the extent that campaign donations indicate voter commitment, the numbers are noteworthy. Take, for example, Wisconsin. Despite having campaigned there in the lead-up to its April 3 primary, Romney received a mere 136 reported contributions from that state for a total of $36,934. In Ohio, Romney received 325 reported donations during March for a total of $119,000. He campaign extensively in that state as well.

The one state where Romney does have a solid grassroots fundraising apparatus is Utah. Last month, his campaign received 1,182 reported contributions totaling just over $190,000 -- for an average donation of $161. That was slightly more than the $152 average donation from Iowa. But it was less than the $296 average from New Hampshire, the $325 average from South Carolina, the $366 average from Ohio, the $783 average from California, the $1,008 average from New York and the $1,122 average from Connecticut.

The state with the largest average donation to the Romney campaign during March was, unexpectedly, Louisiana, where 236 reported contributions were made for a total of $306,868 -- an average of $1,300 per contribution.

Aaron Bycoffe contributed to this report.