Republicans are set to outspend Democrats in this year???s election despite a commanding fundraising lead by President Barack Obama that still falls short of his 2008 record total.
As they pull into the final stretch, Obama has raised nearly $556 million with more than $99 million cash on hand as of the last filing with the Federal Election Commission in mid-October.
Republican nominee Mitt Romney has raised $340 million with $63 million cash on hand, but riding to his aid is the national Republican Party and numerous independent groups giving him significant cash advantage overall.
Cheri Jacobus, president of Capitol Strategies, said more money for Romney means added opportunities for the challenger to show voters who he is and how his vision of America???s future differs from the incumbent.
???Obama can spend money going hard negative on Romney, but that can be overplayed and it still can???t erase his record as president,??? Jacobus said.
The Republican National Committee has raised an astounding $800 million compared to the Democrat???s healthy $755 million, giving Romney a final advantage of $191 million cash on hand (party funds plus his own) to Obama???s $150 million in the bank for the final weeks of the election.
???The support of Americans ready for a new direction has allowed us to continue implementing our unprecedented ground game, while also communicating our message,??? said Reince Priebus, Republican Party chairman. ???Our strength on both fronts will result in Republican victories up and down the ticket in (the final) days.???
Romney???s fundraising efforts surged after the Oct. 3 debate, raising $27 million online in the following two weeks.
In 2008, Obama???s campaign raised $750 million to Republican challenger John McCain???s $370 million. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party outraised Republicans $961 million to $920 million, and more money was spent on Obama???s behalf through independent expenditures, $167 million compared to $43 million for McCain.
Role of Super PACs
Adding significantly to total expenditures this election cycle are the so-called super political action committes (PACs) that were created after the Supreme Court???s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The court held that the government could not prohibit unions, corporations, or other associations from making expenditures independent from campaigns, so long as the spending is not coordinated with the candidates or their staff.
Just as one person may spend freely on his own speech, groups of people are allowed to join together, exercising their freedom of association to make their speech more effective, says Steve Simpson, senior attorney for the Institute for Justice.
???The explosion of political speech we???re seeing in this election shows just how much speech was silenced before Citizens United and SpeechNow.org,??? Simpson said. ???This speech is good for American voters. It has empowered new, free voices to expand the scope of the political debate.???
The Center for Responsive Politics predicts that spending on political speech by super PACs could approach $1 billion this election.
Super PAC spending for Obama leads with $257 million in the pipeline, and $121 million for Romney.
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Biggest sources of donor money
Where does the money come from? The Center for Responsive Politics compiled a list of the top donors by their employers. The organizations themselves did not donate; rather the money came from the organizations??? PACs, their individual members, employees or owners, and those individuals??? immediate families.
The largest amount came from employees of the University of California, which bundled $928,000 in individual contributions. Microsoft employees came in second with $681,000; followed by Google with $662,000; Harvard University with $535,000; federal employees with $529,000; Kaiser Permanente with $426,000; Stanford University with $414,000; Deloitte LLP with $400,000; DLA Pipe with $389,000; and Time Warner with $362,000.
Romney???s top bundlers came from Goldman Sachs with $965,000, Bank of America with $845,000, Morgan Stanley with $768,000, JP Morgan Chase with $750,000, Credit Suisse Group with $589,000, Wells Fargo with $525,000, Deloitte LLP with $478,000, Kirkland & Ellis with $471,000, Citigroup with $448,000, and Barclays with $427,000.
Although the Obama campaign has excelled at raising money over the Internet, a report released this week by the Government Accountability Institute questions the effectiveness of its anti-fraud security tools to weed out online donations that are using incomplete or inaccurate ZIP codes.
The Obama campaign received nearly $4.6 million from donors with the incomplete information and Romney???s campaign also experienced similar problems and received $283,000 without the complete information.
The Associated Press also ranked and profiled the top five financial supporters bankrolling Democrats and Republicans.
In Obama???s corner, Jeffrey Katzenberg, a Hollywood film producer and CEO of DreamWorks Animation, has donated a total of $2.56 million, more than any other Democratic donor. In second place is Irwin Jacobs, former chairman of Qualcomm, who gave $2.1 million. Fred Eychaner, Newsweb Corp. publisher, donated $2 million, Michigan philanthropist Jon Stryker also gave $2 million, and Steve Mostyn, a personal injury lawyer, gave just over $2 million.
On the Republican side, Sheldon Adelson, Las Vegas casino owner, has contributed more than $34 million, although $24 million went to former candidate Newt Gingrich???s campaign. Harold Simmons, owner of Contran Corp., a conglomerate that specializes in metals and chemical production, has donated $16 million. Bob Perry, real estate mogul, contributed $15.3 million, Robert Rowling, head of TRT Holdings, gave $4.1 million, and industrialist William Koch donated $3 million.
In spite of the avalanche of money pouring into the campaigns, the candidates have propped up their war chests with loans???Obama borrowed $15 million and Romney took a $20 million loan.