Let’s face it.
There’s no bigger spender than Barack Obama. He tripled the deficit his first year in office and never looked back.
(J. Hoft Chart)
In fact this year will be the fourth year in a row that the US deficit will top $1.1 trillion and is expected to reach $1.33 trillion – another Obama record.
Obama knows how to spend other people’s money.
It makes sense then that he would burn through campaign cash, too.
Karl Rove at
The Wall Street Journal reported:
Last July, President Obama’s campaign announced that it had raised an average of $29 million in each of the previous three months for itself and the Democratic National Committee (DNC). I was only mildly impressed. After all, that was well below the $50 million a month needed to reach the campaign’s goal of a $1 billion war chest for the 2012 race.
Seven months later, I’m even less impressed. Through January, the president has raised an average of $24 million a month for his campaign and the DNC. Next week, the Obama campaign will release its February numbers, but the president is on track to be hundreds of millions of dollars shy of his original goal.
It’s not for lack of trying. Mr. Obama has already attended 103 fund-raisers, roughly one every three days since he kicked off his campaign last April (twice his predecessor’s pace).
The president faces other fund-raising challenges. For one, there are only so many times any candidate can go to New York or Hollywood or San Francisco for a $1 million fund-raiser. Team Obama is running through its easy money venues quickly.
For another, many of Mr. Obama’s 2008 donors are reluctant to give again. The Obama campaign itself reported that fewer than 7% of 2008 donors renewed their support in the first quarter of his re-election campaign. That’s about one-quarter to one-third of a typical renewal rate: In the first quarter of the Bush re-election campaign, for example, about 20% of the donors renewed their support.
There are other troubling signs. Team Obama’s email appeals don’t ask for $10, $15, $25 or $50 donations as they did in 2008, but generally for $3. Nor are the appeals mostly about issues; many are lotteries. Give three bucks and your name will be put in a drawing for a private dinner with the president and first lady.
This is clever marketing, but it suggests the campaign has found that only a low price point with a big benefit can overcome donor resistance among people who contributed via mail or the Internet in 2008. It also points to higher-than-expected solicitation costs and lower-than-expected fund-raising returns.
The final financial challenge facing Mr. Obama’s campaign is how fast it is burning through the cash it is raising. Compare the 2012 Obama re-election campaign with the 2004 Bush re-election campaign. Mr. Obama’s campaign spent 25% of what it raised in the second quarter of 2011, while Mr. Bush’s campaign spent only 9% in the second quarter of 2003. In the third quarter it was 46% for Obama versus 26% for Bush; for the fourth quarter it was 57% versus 40% . In January 2012 the Obama campaign spent 158% of what it raised, while the Bush campaign spent 60% in January 2004.
You have to give credit where it is due. Barack Obama knows how to spend other people’s money – and so does his wife.