WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Campaign donors are not flocking to President Obama this time around like they did in 2008.
According to BuzzFeed’s recent analysis of campaign finance data, 87 percent of the Obama donors who gave $200 through April 2008 had not contributed to the president’s re-election campaign by the end of last month. That’s 182,078 people. And there’s more. BuzzFeed found that 88 percent of the people who gave $200 or more in 2008 – more than 537,000 people – had not yet given to the campaign this year.
The findings contradict campaign finance statistics made publicly available by the Obama campaign on its website. According to the Obama campaign, 98 percent of the campaign’s 1 million donors have given $250 or less with 95 percent of the donors having given $150 or less. Obama spokesperson Katie Hogan told BuzzFeed that the campaign refuted the website’s findings, stating that the early campaign contributions indicate that the president’s re-election campaign is far ahead of the campaign’s 2008 pace.
The lack of enthusiasm in early campaign contributions comes as little surprise to Jack Oliver, the national finance vice-chairman for President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign in 2004. Oliver told CBSDC that the Obama campaign has an uphill climb, saying that the message has gone from “hope” in 2008 to “fear” in this current election cycle.
“If I was in the Obama campaign, I’d be concerned because they’ve lost the energy and support and donors they had in the 2008 campaign,” Oliver told CBSDC. “When you go from hope to fear, those people are less likely to support you financially.”
In 2008, Obama’s inspiring story helped generate greater interest among people who wanted to engage in the political process, thus resulting in an abundance of donors. Oliver said that the same feeling of inspiration has worn off during the course of Obama’s administration, replaced with the fear amongst Obama supporters of a Romney presidency.
“Looking at the president’s record, inspiration doesn’t work, so they will do whatever they can to tear down Gov. Romney,” said Oliver, who also served as national finance director for Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign.
The BuzzFeed findings come on the heels of a recent CNN/ORC International survey that found that Obama supporters are more energized by the president’s candidacy than those supporters backing Romney. According to last week’s survey, 60 percent of people who classify themselves as Obama voters say they strongly support the president, compared to the 47 percent of Romney voters who feel the same way about the former Massachusetts governor. Last month, a Washington Post/ABC News poll was released with similar results, finding 51 percent of the president’s supporters to be very enthusiastic about supporting him compared to the 26-percent clip among Romney supporters who are very excited about the presumptive GOP nominee.
“Although the race for the White House is essentially tied, Obama does have one big advantage: His supporters right now are far more enthusiastic about him,” CNN wrote.
Reports of the campaign’s early lack of donations of $200 or more follow the same trajectory of political contributions made by Obama supporters since he won the presidency. Since the 2008 election, about 46 percent of the campaign contributions made toward Obama’s re-election campaign comprised of donations of $200 or more, according to The New York Times. Where Obama thrives in campaign contributions of less than $200, the majority of contributions made to Romney have been $200 or more. According to data comprised by the Times, 86 percent of the contributions made to the Romney campaign were donations of $200 or more, 57 percent of the individual donations valued at the maximum $2,500.
Though it is still unclear if and when those ’08 Obama supporters come back in the next few months with as much vigor and volume as they did four years ago, the disconnect between the reported level of enthusiasm for the president’s campaign and the lack of campaign contributions by those enthusiastic supporters will remain a curious question for Team Obama.
“Clearly, they’re missing something that was unique about what they did in the past,” Oliver said.