President Obama's vast campaign operation raked in $86 million for his reelection and for the Democratic Party during the last three months, breaking previous records with a total far greater than those posted by his potential Republican opponents in the 2012 election.
Initially, the Obama campaign had set a goal of raising $60 million. Republican candidates combined are expected to raise less than $35 million this quarter.
The Obama amount points to the advantages of incumbency in fundraising, and to the staggering cost of the coming election, which this year will feature a new, powerful role for independent groups that can raise unlimited sums. This year, those groups could out-raise and outspend the parties and the candidates.
The dollar total for Obama last quarter, announced by his campaign manager in a video message to supporters Wednesday morning, reflects $47 million raised for the Obama for America presidential campaign and an additional $38 million raised jointly with the Democratic National Committee.
In the video Obama campaign manager Jim Messina emphasized the record-breaking number of donors contributing: about 550,000.
"This is a historic number of small-dollar, everyday people," he said, noting that the campaign does not accept funds from lobbyists or political action committees.
The number does shatter previous records, and meets Obama's goal of launching another campaign that involves a large numbers of individuals in all 50 states. Still, the total amount of dollars raised was boosted by a ramped-up effort to court large-dollar donors to joint events with the DNC.
For example, the Los Angeles Times reported recently on a several programs to lure large checks from individual donors. One program, called "Presidential Partners," seeks a two-year commitment in exchange for regular briefings and updates from the campaign. The price of admission: $75,800.
Obama's closest competitor in the GOP field, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, says he will report $18 million collected during the last three months. In addition, an independent group supporting Romney says it has raised more than $12 million this year.