Republican candidates lag donations race
By Andrew Ward in Washington
Published: July 4 2007 20:00 | Last updated: July 4 2007 20:00
Fundraising figures released this week by the 2008 US presidential hopefuls have shown Republican candidates lagging far behind their Democratic counterparts, exposing the sharply contrasting moods within the two parties as they gear up for next year’s elections.
The $68.5m (€50m, £34m) raised by the three leading Democratic contenders in the second quarter was greater by a third than the $42m brought in by the top three Republicans, marking a reversal of the advantage traditionally enjoyed by Republican candidates.
The gap reflects the much greater enthusiasm within the Democratic party for its field, led by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, compared with widespread dissatisfaction among Republicans about their choices for the party nomination.
More broadly, the figures underscore the resurgence under way in the Democratic party, as grassroots anger about the war in Iraq and the deepening unpopularity of President George W. Bush fuels demand for change.
Republicans, in contrast, have suffered a slump in morale and an outbreak of bitter infighting since the party’s crushing defeat in last November’s mid-term congressional elections.
The diverging party fortunes were demonstrated most starkly by Mr Obama, the charismatic first-term Illinois senator, whose second-quarter haul of $32.5m was more than double the $15m brought in by Rudy Giuliani, the top-ranking Republican fundraiser.
More than 154,000 people contributed to Mr Obama’s campaign, the largest number of donors recruited by a US presidential candidate at this stage in the election cycle.
A large proportion of the donations were small amounts from grassroots supporters.
Ms Clinton, senator for New York and frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, relied more heavily on a smaller number of large donors for the $27m she raised between April and June. John Edwards, the third-placed Democratic candidate, brought in $9m.
Republican weakness was exposed most brutally by Arizona senator John McCain, who laid off about a third of his campaign staff this week after a second consecutive quarter of disappointing fundraising.
Mr McCain was once favourite for the party’s nomination but now faces a struggle to save his campaign from collapse. He raised $11m over the past three months and saw his cash reserves dwindle to about $2m.
“We are encountering the kinds of challenges that other Republicans are facing,” said Terry Nelson, Mr McCain’s campaign manager. “We face a difficult fundraising environment right now and certainly difficult in comparison to what our Democratic counterparts are able to raise.”
Mitt Romney, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts, also suffered a slowdown in fundraising to $14m in the second quarter. He bolstered his war chest with an additional $6.5m from his personal fortune.
Republican candidates are braced for the expected entry into the race of Fred Thompson, the senator-turned-actor, who has soared to second place in polls of likely Republican voters even before officially declaring his candidacy.
Mr Thompson, star of the legal drama Law & Order, has exploited grassroots discontent with the existing Republican field.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007