2012 Commentary: One Cannot Draw Many Conclusions from Obama's February Fundraising Numbers

Abstract: President Obama's campaign recently announced that it raised $45 million dollars in February. Some pundits will try to discern Obama's re-election chances based on this figure; however, one should not draw too many conclusions from this number.

 Barack Obama - 2008 (1)
Earlier today, President Barack Obama's re-election campaign announced that it had raised $45 million dollars in February. Within hours of this statement, political insiders and others were linking the President's fundraising totals to his chances of securing another term. A Yahoo News article posits statements from Republicans who are cheered by the fact that the Obama campaign only raised $45 million dollars, which "is well off his pace of four years ago, when he scooped up nearly $57 million."

On the other hand, The asserts that Obama's popularity (with key voting groups) is still strong and notes that the President's February haul was almost four times larger than Mitt Romney's fundraising total for that month. While these debates are interesting, I am not sure that one can draw any conclusions from Obama's February fundraising numbers.

For one thing, it is difficult to compare Obama's February 2012 fundraising total with the 2008 figure. A Reuters article reminds us that he was locked in a fierce primary duel with Hillary Clinton in February 2008. It is certainly feasible that his supporters at the time felt a more urgent need to donate money to the campaign in order to ensure that Obama would win his party's presidential nomination. With Obama securely in control of the Democratic nomination this time around, these same supporters might not be as motivated to donate at this early stage in the election process. So, it is quite possible that the President's monthly fundraising totals will increase dramatically once the Republicans finally select their candidate.

Even if we could correctly surmise something from President Obama's February fundraising totals, this information would likely be rendered moot in the coming months. The election is still almost eight months away, and numerous things can happen between now and that time. The U.S. economy could significantly strengthen (or deteriorate), or the European financial crisis may once again start making the front page of the daily news. Alternatively, the trouble in Iran might reach a boiling point long before Americans go to the polls in November; a change in the status quo in that situation will almost certainly influence voter behavior. We do not have to look too far back in history to identify an instance in which a sitting President, who was behind in the polls in February and March of an election year, still managed to secure another term. Per a 2004 CNN News article, President George W. Bush was trailing John Kerry in many polls in March of that year, yet he managed to eke out a second term in office.

In conclusion, political pundits may carefully analyze Obama's fundraising totals in an an attempt to learn something about his re-election chances. However, their efforts are likely to be in vain.

1. Photographer/Author: The Obama-Biden Transition Project
    Date: November 2008
    Title/Description: Official presidential transitional photo of then-President-elect Barack Obama
    Location/Permission: Wikimedia Commons - Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license
    (click on the title/link for photo, credits, permissions).

-- Anthony Hopper

#Obama #politics #elections #fundraising #Romney #Democrats #Republicans #GOP

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