Mitt Romney’s massive fundraising haul last month is the latest shocking development in a tightening presidential election. According to campaign filings, Romney raised $76.8 million to President Obama’s cool $60 million. It is the first time the Republican hopeful has beaten the incumbent Democrat in the fundraising game.
The May totals for both Romney and Obama vastly outpaced their April figures. This increase is probably an effect of the functional end of the GOP primary process and the country’s acceptance of Willard Mitt Romney as the presumptive nominee.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus was quick to pounce on the fundraising report and spin it: “Our strong fundraising is a sign that Americans are tired of President Obama’s broken promises and want a change of direction in the White House.”
With the recent results out of Wisconsin, political observers will be closely following the money this year, as it seems to be the determinative factor in the post Citizens United world. Scott Walker narrowly retained his governorship in the nation’s third ever-gubernatorial recall by outspending his opponent nearly 7 to 1. He accomplished this feat using massive donations from special interest groups outside the state like the infamous Koch brothers, Charles and David.
In a similar, though less politicized fight in California, big tobacco was able to defeat cancer research in a ballot initiative fight thanks to big tobacco’s unlimited spending power. The ballot measure would have raised the cigarette tax in California by one dollar and would have used the new revenue to pay for cancer research. It was endorsed by every health and medical organization in the country, but ultimately lost out to the tobacco companies’ muscular ad buying tactics.
The Obama campaign has raised $277 million in campaign donations so far to the Romney campaign’s $175 million. In any normal year, that gap would be a significant advantage for the president. This year, however, thanks to the Supreme Court, the flood of dark money into “unaffiliated” Super PACs from special interests both named and unnamed is likely to swallow transparent candidate spending whole.