The Obama campaign has taken a huge risk by burning through hundreds of million of dollars in the early stages of the presidential campaign, opening offices in swing states, registering voters and getting to know local communities, but the expenditures have left the campaign dangerously low on cash heading into the final three months of the campaign.
The analysis of the Obama expenditures by the New York Times shows that the campaign has spent $400 million from the beginning of 2011 to June 30, 2012. That number includes $86 million on advertising, $50 million on hiring Democratic party workers, $46 million on direct mail and postage, $24 million on phones and even $25,000 on flower arrangements. The result is a vast and well-organized network of on-the-ground staff and infrastructure—and a discernible panic among Democrats that the campaign possibly has put itself in danger because the Mitt Romney campaign has far more money, $25 million more cash on hand at the start of July.
And although Romney has spent much of his money from the primaries and has to wait until after the convention to access tens of million dollars he has waiting, he can count on the pro-Romney Super PACs to take up the slack right now.
Obama supporters say the campaign’s fundraising has acquired a sense of urgency, sending out many more alarming emails to donors and scheduling more fundraising stops for the president. The campaign also has asked former President Bill Clinton to help with the fundraising efforts.
“My upcoming birthday next week could be the last one I celebrate as president of the United States, but that’s not up to me—it’s up to you,” the president wrote in an email to supporters last week.
But Obama campaign and Democratic party officials told the Times in interviews that they believed the Obama strategy would prove to be wise when election day has arrived.
“You can pay for direct mail or TV ads at the last minute, but you can’t shortcut long-term volunteer training programs,” said a campaign official. “The relationships we’ve built, the depth of what people know about their communities, our data systems, the training and organization—good luck doing that in less than 100 days.”