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It's not just money: People also like Obama more than Mitt
For the last three months, Mitt Romney has made a big deal about outraising President Obama. Given that it was just about the only quantifiable metric showing indisputably good news for his campaign, you can understand why. But now he can't even use that bit of spin to boost his campaign because in August, for the first full month since wrapping up the primary, Mitt Romney didn't raise as much money as the president, pulling in $111 million compared to the Obama campaign's $114 million.
But as pleasing as that number may be, arguably the more significant number is that in August, Romney spent more than he raised, churning through nearly $130 million. That means Romney spent more in August than in any other month since the start of the campaign, yet he failed to move the needle. In light of that, the fact that he is now being outraised by the Obama campaign presents an even bigger challenge.
Overall, taking Super PACs into account, Romney is still on pace to raise more money than Obama, but the problem he has is that the money is spread across many different groups that are legally restricted from coordinating with the Romney campaign. As a result, assuming the groups follow the law, it can take days to get on the same page message-wise and even then the style and branding of the ads varies from group to group.
Compounding the problem: even the money directly raised by Romney must go into two different pots. A portion of his $111 million haul goes to his campaign, but the rest goes to the Republican Party, and the vast majority of the money that goes to the GOP cannot be legally coordinated with Romney's campaign team, even though Romney raised it. The same thing is true for President Obama, but because Obama has more small donors than Romney, a much lower percentage of his fundraising must get diverted to the Democratic Party than is the case with Romney and the RNC.
But even though Romney's fundraising pace has fallen behind the president's, that's not his biggest problem. His biggest problem is that he's trying to sell a product—Republican economics and social policy extremism—that most Americans just don't want. And no matter the size of his ad budget, Mitt Romney isn't a good enough salesman to convince Americans to change their mind.