President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are both on pace to raise more than $1 billion with their parties by Election Day, according to figures released by the campaigns Thursday.
From the beginning of 2011 through Oct. 17, Obama and the Democrats had raised about $1.06 billion, and Romney and the Republicans had collected about $952.2 million, including some money for the party’s congressional efforts, setting up 2012 to be the most expensive presidential campaign in history. But the sources of that money, raised over the course of a deeply polarizing campaign, echo the sharp divisions between the two men and their parties over issues like abortion rights, the role of government in regulating industry, and the country’s economic future.
Wall Street has invested more heavily in Romney, an ex-financier who has pledged to repeal Obama’s new financial regulations, than in any presidential candidate in memory. Employees of financial firms had given more than $18 million dollars to Romney’s campaign through the end of September and tens of millions more to the super PACs supporting him.
Insurance companies, law, accounting and real estate firms, and doctors are giving less to Obama and the Democratic National Committee than they did four years ago, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.
Yet donors in other industries have stepped in. With Obama making repeated trips to Silicon Valley and holding round tables with executives there, the technology industry has donated about $14 million to the president and the Democrats, substantially more than in 2008. Retirees — the biggest single source of money for both sides — have given the Democrats much more than they did four years ago, as have employees of women’s groups, hospitals and nursing homes, and retailers. To make up for the loss of business money that flowed to his campaign four years ago, Obama has also turned to the very smallest donors, building an army of millions of supporters who have given as little as a few dollars each. About 4.2 million people sent donations to Obama and the DNC, his campaign said Thursday, roughly one million more than in the 2008.
Overall, 55 percent of the Obama campaign’s money came in donations of less than $200, including from many people who have repeatedly sent in small checks over the course of the campaign. Just 13 percent of his checks were for $2,500, the maximum that donors are allowed to contribute for either the primary or general election.
Romney, by contrast, has cultivated business leaders and benefited from a Republican donor establishment that is eager to defeat Obama, raising an unprecedented amount of money from wealthy donors who gave the maximum allowed. Just 22 percent of his cash has come from donations of less than $200. But through the end of September, 45 percent of checks to Romney’s campaign were for the maximum $2,500 contribution.