What Obama's record fundraising haul means for Election 2012

President Obama raised $47 million for his campaign and another $38 million for the Democratic Party during the second quarter of 2011 – a record haul for this early in the election cycle.

Charles Dharapak / AP
President Obama sits with House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, as he meets with Republican and Democratic leaders regarding the debt ceiling, July 11.

President Obama raised more than $47 million in the second quarter of 2011 for his reelection effort, campaign manager Jim Messina revealed Wednesday.

The number was a record for second-quarter fundraising in the year before an election, but did not break the all-time record for quarterly fundraising in a pre-election year. President George W. Bush holds that mark: $50 million in the third quarter of 2003 and $47.5 million in the fourth quarter of that year.

But Mr. Obama’s haul likely surpassed that of the entire Republican field. Combining the known fundraising totals, Republican candidates brought in $35.5 million. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who announced her candidacy late in the quarter, has yet to report. Reports are due on Friday. The top GOP fundraiser, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, raised $18 million in the quarter.

Analysts attribute the top candidates’ good but not amazing fundraising numbers to the struggling economy. This election cycle will also feature unprecedented fundraising by independent groups, so donors have more options than ever as they choose how to put their skin in the game. And in the end, the state of the economy will be the top factor in determining whether Obama wins reelection – not how much money he raised or how many people donated.

Still, the president did get a lot of people to give him money. Obama’s joint fundraising effort for himself and the Democratic National Committee ($86 million total) brought in donations from 552,462 people. The average contribution was $69, and 98 percent of donors gave less than $250.

“We did this from the bottom up,” Mr. Messina said in a video released early Wednesday. “We didn’t accept one single dollar from Washington lobbyists or special-interest PACs.”

The Republican National Committee sought to turn the Obama campaign’s money announcement into a political negative: “Too bad for the 14 million unemployed that Obama is more focused on raising cash for his own political future than America’s,” the RNC said in a statement.

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