- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Showing increasing strength in the money race, Mitt Romney in July outraised President Obama in all but 11 states, and in all nine of the most likely swing states, chalking up his strongest support yet from small donors.

Buttressed by his reliable large donors and a pair of supportive super PACs, Mr. Romney and his backers raised $24 million more than Team Obama in July.

Totals announced by the Romney campaign earlier this month may have overstated the July haul, however, because disclosures Monday showed that $20 million was transferred to party committees in strategically unimportant states as part of an arrangement between those parties and Mr. Romney’s joint fundraising committee, which focuses on raising funds from the wealthiest donors.

The Republican presidential candidate also scored his best month yet in attracting support from donors giving less than $200. The Romney campaign’s July total of $94 million included $11.8 million from small donors, up from $4 million just two months earlier.

The Obama campaign’s fundraising total in July included $16.4 million from small donors. Combined with donations from the central party committees, the Republicans’ small-donor contributions are now on par with the Democrats’ numbers.

Mr. Obama’s July numbers look better when contributions to party committees — the preferred destination for wealthy supporters — are subtracted. Going head to head, Mr. Obama outraised Mr. Romney in 17 states.

But among swing states, he beat the Republican in only New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Virginia.

The most populous swing state, Florida, gave 61 percent of its cash to Mr. Romney.

Still, while donors at the lowest and highest ends of the spectrum boosted Mr. Romney’s totals, Mr. Obama had a quarter-million contributors give $200 or more, while Mr. Romney had 70,000.

Mr. Obama had significant success tapping donors repeatedly, with his much-touted small donors giving so many times that they passed the definition of small donors. In July, 160,000 people gave small amounts that put their cumulative total between $200 and $500, or $50 million as a group. Mr. Romney, who spent much of the early months of the campaign with his supporters backing Republican rivals instead of his campaign, had 35,000 such repeat small donors for a total of $10 million.

Despite falling behind in the latest fundraising numbers, Mr. Obama has built a long-term, distributed infrastructure that could be difficult for Mr. Romney to replicate, campaign expenditures show.

The Obama campaign had a payroll of $3 million in July, including 858 staffers in 46 states. In May, it had 700 staffers across 44 states and spent $2.6 million. The Romney team, by comparison, spent $1.7 million on payroll for 326 staffers, many of whom work part time and all of whom have Massachusetts addresses.

“I think it’s a huge misconception that Obama is starting to trail Romney in terms of fundraising. Romney is really sprinting, whereas Obama has been running more of a marathon,” said Bill Allison, a campaign finance specialist at the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation. “Obama’s had voter identification, outreach. He’s on the ground. Romney is trying to set that up in a much shorter time frame.”

The Obama campaign spent $40 million on television ads, and recently bought 600 ads in 20 of the nation’s top 50 markets, chiefly in Ohio, Colorado, Florida, Virginia and Nevada, broadcasting records show. The Romney campaign, for its part, spent $21 million, and has bought 250 ads in 17 of those markets, focusing on Ohio, Florida and Virginia but also the District.

The Obama fundraising committee transferred money to party apparatuses in swing states, where it could be used to help Mr. Obama win: $1.3 million to Ohio, $1 million to Florida and Virginia, and $900,000 to North Carolina.

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