COMMENTARY | When the election cycle began, the conventional wisdom was President Barack Obama was going to have a $1 billion campaign war chest that would allow him to crush anyone the Republicans nominated to run against him.
But the Washington Post reports the conventional wisdom has turned out to be wide of the mark. It might be the case that Mitt Romney will outraise the president.
How could this be?
Buzzfeed suggests big-money donations, instrumental in funding Obama's campaign juggernaut four years ago, have dried up. Hot Air adds the unions, usually a source of cash and muscle for Democrats, have been mired in fights over public sector union collective bargaining rights such as the recall election taking place in Wisconsin. There will be little enough left to try to re-elect President Obama, who has angered big labor because of his failure to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.
The statement that money is the mother's milk of politics might be a cliche, but that's because it is true. Obama managed to outraise and outspend John McCain in 2008, padding what was already a likely victory due to the financial meltdown and angst over the war in Iraq. But now the shoe is on the other foot. The economy and foreign policy are working against Obama and now so is fundraising.
What does all this mean? For one thing, one of the advantages of incumbency is the ability to raise money. Political donations flow to where the power is, in this case a sitting president. That Obama does not seem to enjoy that advantage says much about how he was wielded and largely squandered his power. Those who want to use their cash to buy their way to a proximity to political power seem to be concluding that Mitt Romney is the safer bet.
That doesn't necessarily mean that Obama is doomed. But it does mean that he will have the hustle more to get the money to pay for a reelection campaign. He has been busy doing that with a will. But now, it seems, he will have to try harder.