Politics Week in Review

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  • Well, those big numbers touted by the GOP each month this summer that showed Mitt Romney raking in scads more money than President Obama in campaign donations over the past few months won’t really help the Republican presidential nominee as much as first thought.

    According to The New York Times, much of the $300 million raised this summer will help Republican congressional races, the Republican National Committee and some state Republican organizations, too.

    As a result, the Romney campaign will be working with a tighter advertising budget than President Obama, all while the president is beginning to widen his lead in several so-called battleground states.

    In fact, money – it turns out –was so tight for much of the summer that the Romney campaign was forced to borrow $20 million to get through the Republican Convention. Tens of millions of dollars could not be spent until Romney was officially nominated as his party’s candidate. Those funds then became available for the run up to the general election in November.

    So why did we think Romney was beating Obama in the money game?

    “Romney aides released informal dollar figures that lumped several pools of money – some available for his use, others not – into a single figure, providing a perception greater than reality: $106 million in June and $101 million in July, far more than Mr. Obama and the Democrats,” The Times reported.

    What those reports didn’t make clear was the campaign had to share that money with other party entities.

    And of the party committee’s share, only about $22 million may be spent on advertising linked to Romney.

    Long story short, a lot of that fundraising isn’t going into the GOP nominee’s coffers and now he has to be judicious with his spending.
    Much of the money Romney raised came from high rollers who could only make one-time large donations.  The president continues to receive smaller donations from many individuals who haven’t exceeded the spending limit and, therefore, may contribute multiple times directly to his campaign.

    Super PAC funds are independent operations that cannot be controlled by either campaign. So while a PAC (political action committee) may support a certain position or candidate, it may not coordinate activities with a specific campaign, and a campaign cannot control a PAC’s message, even if it supports the candidate but hurts his position in some way.

    One might argue that with all the austerity, belt tightening, and balanced budget talk the Republicans have been pushing that actually having the actual experience of doing more with less might help Romney better understand how to govern with limits.

    Romney aides, according to The Times, said the campaign would not “telegraph its intentions for competitors to see,” while the Obama team has already booked $40 million in ads through Election Day.

    In other words, they are saving their money to unleash a ton of ads in pivotal states near the end and hope it they will push their candidate over the top.

    Either that or they are hoping super PACs ride to the rescue and that their ads stay on Romney’s message and not hurt the candidate.

    That’s a pretty risky gamble for a campaign that certainly seemed more organized and disciplined. If the Romney team miscalculates with its own finances, one might wonder what it would do with the nation’s.
     

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