One of the most under-reported stories of this campaign cycle is the Republicans’ massive financial problems. The fourth quarter fundraising totals are starting to trickle out, and the story is the same: fundraising for the Republican presidential campaigns is a disaster.
The campaigns aren’t required to submit their official reports to the Federal Elections Commission until the end of January, but a few campaigns have released figures. Mitt Romney had a good quarter; he took in $24 million for the last three months of 2011. If it’s really $24 million, Romney will have raised about a half million more than Barack Obama raised in the 4th quarter of 2007. It will also put Romney at a 2011 total of $56 million raised, about $2 million ahead of what he raised through the end of 2007 (when he also gave his campaign an additional $35 million).
But at $24 million for the quarter, Romney is about $3 million behind what Hillary Clinton raised in the 4th quarter of 2007. However, his total raised throughout the campaign–$54 million–is not only $2 million less than what Rudy Guiliani 2007 raised in 2007, it’s barely half the 2007 totals of the top Democrats; by this point four years ago Obama had raised $102 million, and Clinton had raised $107 million.
And keep this in mind: in 2007 the maximum contribution to a presidential campaign was $2,300, now it’s $2,500.
After Romney, the numbers get ugly. Ron Paul raised $13 million, for a 2011 total of about $26 million. That puts him behind his 2007 results for the 4th quarter ($20 million) and through 2007 ($28 million). Considering he’s more of a force in this field than he was in 2007, that’s remarkably weak.
Newt Gingrich’s campaign claims to have raised $9 million for the quarter, which would give him a total of about $12 million. That’s barely over half the amounts raised through the end of 2007 by Fred Thompson and Bill Richardson.
We haven’t yet seen totals from any of the other Republicans, but none other than Rick Perry are likely to have raised as much as $10 million for the quarter. It’s possible, with his horrible campaign and total collapse well before the Iowa caucuses, that Perry didn’t come close to the $17 million he raised the previous quarter. And it’s possible that Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman didn’t even raise $10 million between the three of them.
Without the totals for Perry and what are likely to be the three weakest fundraisers in the field, the current total raised by all Republicans who stayed in until Iowa is approximately $130 million. Even if the fundraising totals of the four remaining candidates come to $25 million–which is unlikely–that would bring the total for the whole field to only $155 million.
Compare that possible $155 million to the 2007 figures. The Republicans who stayed in until Iowa last time raised about $210 million. That would mean this year’s seven candidate field raised less than 75% what last cycle’s six candidate Republican field raised. The numbers are even more dire when compared to the Democrats. The seven Democrats who stayed in until Iowa raised $289 million; through 2011 the Republican field raised less than 55% of what the Democrats raised through 2007.
Republican turnout in Iowa and New Hampshire was barely what it was in 2008, despite having no competition from competitive Democratic contests for the votes of independent and unaffiliated voters. Now, with the 4th quarter financial reports trickling out, we have yet another metric to show that far from meeting the predictions of a surge of enthusiasm, the Republican base has yet to even match the insufficient enthusiasm of their losing campaign in 2008.