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Will Obama Get Re-elected? Don’t Just Watch The Polls; Instead, Follow The Money

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Love him or hate him, you probably want to know whether Barack Obama will be re-elected to a second term next year.

One might turn to the endless stream of opinion polls — which increasingly have been spelling doom and gloom for the president’s 2012 prospects.

Beware of these polls, however, especially this far out from an election.

They can shift dramatically, in a fairly short of period of time.

Just ask Scott Brown.

The first Massachusetts Republican elected to the Senate in a generation, Brown was riding high just weeks ago. The polls had him beating all potential opponents, including Democrat Elizabeth Warren.

Now that Warren has begun her campaign in earnest, however, she recently took a small lead over the incumbent.

This is not to say Brown is certainly headed for defeat. Rather, because opinion polls can tilt this way and that, they aren’t necessarily the best predictor at this time.

To get a clearer picture of Obama’s chances to hold the White House, you need to follow the money. Instead of the polls, watch the president’s fundraising.

Barack Obama is a campaign fundraising titan, hauling in a record $750 million in 2008. His campaign officials have suggested they want to do better for 2012, and Obama could become the first presidential candidate to raise $1 billion.

He’s already gotten off to a good start. He brought in $86 million just in the second quarter of this year alone, setting another record.

It also was much more than the $35 million combined that all of his potential Republican rivals raised during the same period.

It’s also important to note that most of that $86 million came not from wealthy contributors, but rather from small-dollar donors. The average contribution was $69.

So this is Obama’s baseline. This is a good time to return to watching his fundraising because the deadline for third-quarter fundraising is Friday.

Of course, you can compare Obama’s numbers to those of his GOP opponents in absolute dollar terms to see how they stack up. Does Obama stay way out ahead, or do the Republicans start closing the money gap?

But as the numbers come in, you can start asking other questions, too.

For instance, the Obama campaign reported 552,462 donors in the second quarter. Does that figure go up, or down in the third?

How the president stacks up against the Republicans will be important, but even if he holds a commanding lead, that’s not necessarily the determining factor.

That’s because even if the Republican nominee is behind in fundraising, the fact is that there will be enough outside “super PACs” and other groups ready to jump in and help fill the gap with their own attack ads.

Instead, it will be more important to watch the internals of the Obama fundraising.

Do his supporters continue to show the same commitment to the campaign, quarter after quarter? Do they remain sufficiently confident, or at least hopeful, of an Obama win that they are willing, in the parlance of Obama 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina to continue “to own a piece of this campaign”? Or do they jump ship by closing their wallets?

That level of enthusiasm will say much about whether Barack Obama will once again be taking the oath of office.

By watching these numbers unfold through the campaign, you will have an understanding of where the president stands that is deeper than whatever the polls written in quicksand proclaim at any given moment.

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About Scott Nance

  • roger nowosielski

    “He brought in $86 million just in the second quarter of this year alone, setting another record.”

    It’s waste of money, especially in today’s economy, money which we can’t afford to spend — $86 million too much.

  • El Bicho

    who is “we”? It’s not your money and the donors giving it to him obviously don’t think it’s a waste.

    Plus, that money will likely be spent so it will be going into the economy. You may not like it, but politics is big business.

    I imagine the TV and radio stations are just salivating over the thoughts of what 2012 is going to bring in.

  • Arch Conservative

    Has hell frozen over? Did I not get the memo?

    “It’s not your money”

    I’d never though I’d hear those words coming from someone whilst defending the Obamessiah.

  • zingzing

    is that supposed to mean something?

  • Tommy Mack

    The Republican opposition accused Roosevelt of turning class against class. It ran the former NY Governor Thomas Dewey, who mounted a good campaign against the undefeatable Roosevelt. He lost and ran again against the incumbent President Truman. Public opinion polls taken in December 1946 revealed that only 35 percent of those surveyed supported Truman’s handling of the presidency.

    “That is why the Republican 80th “do-nothing” Congress–I mean do nothing for the people, they did something for the special interests all right . . ,” Truman said.

    The Obama reelection committee seeks $3 donations at a time. Regularly. Weekly. Easily.
    The GOP smugness and its new former governor, just as Thomas Dewey, are up against simplicity itself, its own past and a formidable fund raising organization.

    The 112th Congress is every bit as recalcitrant and nonproductive as the 80th, but the GOP has to run someone. Romney. Another rich, smug, white actor. The $3 donors will vote. Opinion polls don’t vote. Dewey lost.


  • roger nowosielski


    Don’t give a shit about TV and radio stations. Do you?

  • El Bicho

    I have no idea, zing, but then Arch’s gibberish usually makes little sense. Apparently pointing out Roger is wrong makes me a defender of Obama. Who knew? I didn’t donate any money to Obama so I am certain none of that $86 million is mine. Maybe they secretly donated to him.

    Roger, considering the number of media markets in my state, with LA being second largest in the nation, yes, I do give a shit about them making money. Businesses need to make money for the govt to make money. If you have other options, please share.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    I also didn’t give a penny to Obama – I did to Hillary – twice – but not one penny to Obama.

    And it doesn’t matter whether you personally care about radio and TV, because you are not representative of the vast majority of Americans…and the vast majority of Americans do pay a lot of attention to what they choose to see on TV and choose to hear on radio. If you’ll recall, one of the big reasons for the rise of the Rabid Right was Rush Limbaugh and Fox “News”.

  • heloise

    I gave to Obama campaign and never got my yard sign I bought. They told me some BS but I never got my sign. I ain’t giving to nobody this year and I have a long list of who I am not voting for. Obama crosses three of the items and almost all the GOP contenders.

    So this might be the first election I sit out in a long time. Nobody is a winner. Obama can’t win Texas but he will need the pop vote. This could be a low turnout election. Did anyone predict that?

  • roger nowosielski


    “Businesses need to make money for the govt to make money.”

    That’s a good one! I’ve never heard it explained to me quite that way.

  • Steve

    I had heard the opposite online that the small donations were not coming in like the last election, but your research proves this rumor to be false.
    The many fund raising events could be making up for the smaller donations he was able to obtain as a new candidate.

  • roger nowosielski


    Same here, Glenn, plus was working the phone banks for her.