Obama's 'billion-dollar' campaign: Did the fundraising hype backfire?

The Week

Obama raised a "staggering" $250 million in 2011— but did the perception that Obama is on his way to $1 billion dissuade Dems from giving more?

President Obama's re-election campaign raked in $42 million last quarter, which, added to the Democratic National Committee's $26 million, brought the joint Obama-DNC haul for 2011 to roughly $250 million. Impressive, yes, but less so when you consider the Obama campaign's reported $1 billion target — talked up by some Democrats and plenty of Republicans, but dismissed as "bullsh**t" by Obama campaign manager Jim Messina and now clearly out of reach. In fact, says Glenn Thrush in Politico, the "myth of Obama's 'billion-dollar' money bomb" may have convinced Dems that Obama has the fundraising locked up, and dissuaded them from donating. Exhibit A: The Obama-DNC's $68 million is a step down from the $70.1 million they raised in the previous quarter. Did Democrats mess up by overselling Obama's money machine?

Yes, Team Obama flubbed the expectations game: When put in context, Obama's $250 million haul is less impressive than it seems, says Alana Goodman in Commentary. The RNC and Bush-Cheney campaign, for example, raised $273 million (adjusted for inflation) in 2003. But Obama's real measure of fundraising success is his own 2008 campaign: This time round, he may not even exceed his own $746 million record. It's a little late to downplay expectations, now that we've seen the "obvious lack of enthusiasm from supporters."
"What happened to Obama's $1 billion campaign?"

The president is raising plenty of cash: Yes, Obama will fall short of the billion-dollar mark — "a figure his campaign regularly scoffed at as simply pie in the sky" — but he's still a "remarkable fundraising force," says Chris Cillizza in The Washington Post. Obama's 2011 haul "dwarfs the totals put up by the Republicans hoping to unseat him," even frontrunner Mitt Romney, who raised $56 million last year. And that's what counts: Obama's cash advantage should give him "first crack at setting the terms of the general election."
"Obama unlikely to break billion-dollar fundraising mark"

Obama will need all the money he can get: "The Goliath vs. David optics of that are deceptive," says Tommy Christopher in Mediaite. Obama's not just running against Romney, but against several well-funded GOP super PACs. The sparsely funded ones backing Obama won't make up the difference, so Obama has to. With the super PACs such a wild card in the money race, the best number from Obama's "staggering" fourth-quarter haul might be 200,000: The number of first-time donors to his campaign, an indication of "fresh interest."
"Obama's reelection campaign announces $68 million 4th quarter"

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