(New York Times) – In the battle for political cash, President Obama is finding himself in an unaccustomed place during the final months of the 2012 campaign: he is losing.
Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee easily outraised the formidable Obama money machine for the second month in a row. A nonstop schedule of high-dollar events around the country brought in $106 million during June to Mr. Obama’s $71 million, giving him and his party four times the cash on hand that it had just three months ago.
Mr. Obama’s fund-raising deficit in part reflects how steeply the terrain has shifted since 2008, when many Republican donors embraced the candidate and his campaign raised millions of dollars from Wall Street and other traditionally right-leaning industries. Now those donors are swinging hard back to the Republican Party — and to Mr. Romney, whose promise to curtail regulation and cut taxes has helped draw a torrent of five-figure checks.
In a worrisome development for the Obama campaign, Mr. Romney, who until now has been heavily dependent on donors giving the maximum federal contribution, also showed success in June drawing small donors, a traditional strength of the Obama campaign. Reflecting the intensifying general election matchup with Mr. Obama and conservative anger over the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the president’s signature health care law, Mr. Romney raised about a third of his total in checks of under $250, officials said on Monday. Mr. Romney and the R.N.C. now have about $160 million in cash.
“This month’s fund-raising is a statement from voters that they want a change of direction in Washington,” Spencer Zwick, Mr. Romney’s finance chief, said in a statement.
Mr. Romney’s surge puts him on track to raise the $800 million his campaign and the Republican National Committee hope to bring in by Election Day, leaving the real possibility that Mr. Obama could be outspent despite the advantages of incumbency. And with political reality reasserting itself on Mr. Obama, he is being forced to rely more heavily on traditional Democratic constituencies, like Hollywood, labor unions and gay donors, as well as his own millions of small donors.
“It’s the perfect storm for Republicans,” said R. Donahue Peebles, a New York businessman who has raised more than $100,000 for Mr. Obama. “Republicans and independents who supported the president financially thought they would see a change in how Washington worked. What they see now, and it’s not necessarily the president’s fault, is a lot of partisanship in Washington and a struggling economy.”
Mr. Obama, who reported about $109 million in cash in the bank at the end of May, has been significantly outspending Mr. Romney on advertising in swing states. But Mr. Romney’s fund-raising successes are being matched by Republican-leaning outside groups, who are barraging the airwaves with anti-Obama advertisements that the president’s campaign has been forced to spend its own money to match. On Monday, the biggest of the “super PACs,” American Crossroads, announced a $40 million, nine-state fall ad campaign against Mr. Obama, coming on top of a $25 million spree by an affiliate that will run through Labor Day.
Mr. Obama easily outraised Mr. Romney through much of the last year, as Mr. Romney fought for the Republican nomination and Mr. Obama exploited his incumbency to raise large checks in conjunction with the Democratic National Committee. And newly minted nominees typically take in huge influxes of cash as major donors come off the sidelines at the end of a nominating fight, as John Kerry did during the early months of the 2004 general election campaign against George W. Bush. Come November, the final tally between the two candidates could be close to a draw.
Yet money flooding into Mr. Romney’s campaign suggests that even Mr. Obama — the most prodigious fund-raiser to date in political history — can be beaten. And Democratic-aligned outside groups, including those investing heavily in races for the House and the Senate, are far behind their Republican counterparts in raising and spending money.
All told, Republican candidates, party committees and outside groups have spent $269 million on broadcast advertising, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group, compared with $133 million for the Democratic side. Those totals do not included tens of millions of dollars that Mr. Obama invested early in the cycle on data mining, technology and campaign infrastructure, efforts Mr. Romney is now seeking to match on the fly.
Mr. Obama is being outraised despite a more intense fund-raising schedule than any of his predecessors: He was scheduled to hold two events on Monday in Washington, bringing the total to 174 fund-raisers since formally beginning his re-election campaign last year, according to CBS News.
Mr. Obama sought to rally supporters on Monday with a blunt e-mail from Ann Marie Habershaw, the campaign’s chief operating officer.
“We could lose if this continues,” Ms. Habershaw warned.
Several top Obama donors said privately that Mr. Obama’s attacks on Mr. Romney’s private equity career, the president’s handling of White House relations with business leaders and his criticisms of tax rates for the wealthy had made it harder for some of his allies to raise money on Mr. Obama’s behalf from the financial sector and other industries.
“He will not have the same level of support from the business community as last time — either in endorsements, money or support,” said one Obama backer who declined to be identified because of his relationship with the campaign. “That’s clear.”
Mr. Peebles, the Obama fund-raiser, echoed objections among some other Democrats, many with ties to the financial industry, over what he said were unreasonable attacks on the wealthy by the Obama campaign.
“I just got back from Rhode Island on my boat,” Mr. Peebles said, referring to criticism of Mr. Romney’s much-photographed vacation boating last week on New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee. “I can hold 12 people on my boat. I don’t feel that I’m out of touch with Americans or that I am a bad person. I find it offensive, and I’m a supporter.”