Has Mitt Romney Been Exaggerating His Campaign Finances?Posted: September 20, 2012
I mentioned this in the morning post, but I may not have emphasized it enough. On Tuesday, there was a report that the Romney campaign is $11 million in debt. The campaign had borrowed $20 million before the Convention to tide them over until they could begin spending funds from the general election coffers. The campaign is choosing to hold onto the cash for now and try to pay it back with new fund-raising.
There have been many reports over the summer that Romney was taking in huge amounts of money, but last night The New York Times posted an article explaining why Romney has been spending more time fund-raising than on the stump in swing states and why his campaign hasn’t been running that many ads in the media. The fact is, that Romney’s campaign Isn’t really rolling in as much money as he’s been leading us to believe.
Despite what appears to be a plump bank account and an in-house production studio that cranks out multiple commercials a day, Mr. Romney’s campaign has been tightfisted with its advertising budget, leaving him at a disadvantage in several crucial states as President Obama blankets them with ads.
One major reason appears to be that Mr. Romney’s campaign finances have been significantly less robust than recent headlines would suggest. Much of the more than $300 million the campaign reported raising this summer is earmarked for the Republican National Committee, state Republican organizations and Congressional races, limiting the money Mr. Romney’s own campaign has to spend.
For each the past three months, the Romney campaign has been claiming contributions of more than $100,000, but it turns out not all of that money went into the campaign account.
Yet at the same time Romney aides worked hard to project the image of a fund-raising machine far outpacing the president’s.
Romney aides released informal dollar figures that lumped several pools of money — some available for his use, others not — into a single figure, providing a perception greater than reality: $106 million in June and $101 million in July, far more than Mr. Obama and the Democrats.
Yet those figures obscured the fact that most of the money Mr. Romney was raising was reserved for those other political entities like the Republican National Committee.
Only $22 million of the huge RNC windfall can be spent in combination with Romney’s presidential campaign. On the other hand, President Obama has more cash on hand.
A closer look at Mr. Romney’s own filings revealed that Mr. Obama, while trailing in overall party fund-raising, was pulling far more money than Mr. Romney into his campaign account, the most useful and flexible dollars a candidate has to spend, in part because of strong collection from small donors who could give again and again without hitting federal limits.
One reason for this is that this year Obama is getting most of his contributions from smaller donors, while Romney has fewer and wealthier donors, many of whom may have already maxed out. They can give unlimited amounts to superpacs, but with all the problems Romney has been having over the past three weeks, you have to wonder if the big guys will want to keep throwing away millions on a losing cause.
To show how the effect the lack of funds is having on Romney’s campaign, the Times compared his and Obama spending on ads in a number of states:
According to a review of spending figures provided by a group that tracks political advertising, from Sept. 10 through Sept. 24, Mr. Romney and his allies reserved $3.7 million in advertising time in Ohio. That compared with $5.2 million for Mr. Obama and his allies.
In Colorado, Mr. Romney is being outspent $2.2 million to $1.5 million during that same period. In New Hampshire, Mr. Obama is spending $1.2 million, compared with $380,000 to benefit Mr. Romney. The vast majority of that is coming not from the Romney campaign but from American Crossroads, the conservative super PAC.
The Times also notes that the Obama campaign has reserved $40 million worth of ad time through November 6, while the Romney campaign has been purchasing ad time day to day–a week ahead at most.
Now I admit that I’m a mathphobe, and I haven’t seen this discussed much around the blogosphere today, so maybe I’m totally nuts. But to me it looks like Romney is worried about money.
Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign spent more than $66 million in August, ending the month with $50 million in the bank, new federal disclosure reports show….
The campaign took in nearly $67 million in August, doubling the $33 million the campaign in July.
That total doesn’t include a $20 million secured loan the campaign took out in August….
The Romney campaign’s August figures do not include money raised by the Republican National Committee, which operates a joint fundraising operation with the Romney campaign.
Right now Romney has $50 million in his campaign account. It looks to me like he’s going to be dependent on outside groups to fund his advertising. I also heard today that Karl Rove’s Crossroads superpac is not going to have a stunning report–their donations were down in August.
No wonder Romney has been going to so many fund-raisers instead of campaigning. It doesn’t seem smart to me. Doesn’t he have other people who could collect donations for him? Maybe not. And who knows how much longer the big money guys will stick with him? Will he have to start writing his own checks for the campaign?
As I said, I’m terrible at math. Let me know if you think I’m right or wrong about this.