Romney’s small dollar disconnect
After his win in Illinois on Tuesday, Mitt Romney is looking to convince Republicans around the country that he’s their ultimate nominee.
But despite his lead in the delegate count, Romney continues to lag behind his rivals in raising money from so-called small-dollar donors, supporters who donate less than $200. Donations from people who contributed less than $200 — often viewed as a gauge of popular appeal — are filed as “unitemized” donations with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
FEC filings on Tuesday showed Romney’s campaign has so far raised $7.5 million from small donors, which comprises only 10 percent of his fundraising. That proportion has roughly remained the same throughout the campaign.
Rick Santorum, who is struggling to undermine Romney’s lead, has by contrast received $8.1 million, or 52 percent of his fundraising, from donors who gave less than $200.
Santorum, who campaigns as a conservative alternative to Romney, often seeks to contrast his popularity among rural, blue-collar voters with Romney’s appeal to urban Republicans and the business community.
Rival Republican presidential hopefuls Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul have both relied on small donors for 48 percent of their fundraising. Gingrich’s campaign has brought in $10 million from small-check donors, and Paul’s campaign has received $16.1 million.
While the Republican candidates battle through the primary season, the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama has brought in about $71.1 million in unitemized contributions, 59 percent of the money the campaign has raised so far.
In 2008, the Obama campaign received some 30 percent of donations in low-dollar amounts in the campaign to secure the nomination, according to Campaign Finance Institute data. Romney, who lost the Republican nomination that year to Senator John McCain, relied on small-donor contributions for about 8 percent of his fundraising versus 21 percent for McCain, the data show.
Photo credit: Mitt Romney speaks at his Illinois primary night rally in Schaumburg, Illinois, March 20, 2012. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes