Obama raises $70 million. Is that a lot?

President Obama raised $70 million in this quarter of the year, more than any single GOP candidate, and possibly more than all of GOP candidates combined.

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
President Barack Obama speaks at a fund raiser in New York in September.

After weeks of bad polling numbers, a spate of stories about his growing isolation, and the demise of his jobs bill (at least as a complete package), comes a notable bright spot for President Obama.

Obama’s campaign has reported raising more than $42 million in the third fundraising quarter of the year. If you include money the president raised for the Democratic National Committee, the total goes up to $70 million.

Allow us to repeat that: $70 million.

In a three-month period that included the debt ceiling debacle, and in which much of the political spotlight shifted to the GOP primary race, Obama has blown all of his potential opponents out of the water when it comes to the money race. He may even have raised more than all of them combined. (Rick Perry has already reported raising $17 million; Mitt Romney’s campaign has suggested he will report less than that. Ron Paul’s campaign has reported raising $8 million, and everyone else is expected to lag far, far behind. The official reporting deadline is October 15.)

What does this mean? Well, money isn’t everything, but in politics it unquestionably helps. And for all the talk of Obama being a weak incumbent, he is not going to lack for dollars. In fact, we would argue that his fundraising - down slightly from the second quarter, but still an indisputably impressive number - says something important about the state of this race.

According to the Obama campaign, much of the cash came from small donors (as in 2008): more than 600,000 people donated altogether, including more than 250,000 first-time donors. The campaign says many of these grassroots supporters will play a critical role in the ground game - organizing in key states.

It’s worth pointing out that it’s been widely assumed that Obama will raise a billion dollars this campaign cycle. Supporters say he will likely need every penny to counteract spending from outside corporate-backed groups, who, in the wake of a Supreme Court decision last year, are no longer restricted in what they spend.

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