It’s difficult to get a clear one-to-one comparison. Mr. Bush also raised money for the RNC in 2003 and 2004. At this same point in the campaign, the GOP party committee in 2004 had collected $55.87 million in receipts and had $45.53 million in cash on hand, with the bulk of the nearly $400 million it eventually raised coming in the second and third quarters of 2004.
An Obama campaign spokesman told The Washington Times that the president’s re-election effort had reached 1 million donors six months faster than it had in 2008.
“The 1.5 million supporters who have already donated to this campaign know what is at stake, and they know that President Obama has to continue the fight for middle-class security in this country,” the spokesman said.
Down ‘by any account’
But Republicans are all too eager to point out the angst-filled emails as proof that something is amiss.
“No matter how you look it, the numbers don’t lie,” said Sean Spicer, spokesman for the Republican National Committee. “The support for the president’s election is down by any account, and I think they are having trouble getting the coalition that propelled them to victory in 2008 back together based on the policies of the last four years.”
Potentially more worrisome for Team Obama, however, is how fast money is flying out the campaign door, the so-called “burn rate.”
Unlike the super PACs that have been filling the airwaves in GOP primary states, Mr. Obama’s campaign isn’t spending most of its money on TV and radio ads to reach actual voters. The bulk of its outlays have been for political consultants and his large campaign staff as well as telemarketing, direct-mail costs and online advertising, which usually includes a fundraising pitch. In 2011 and so far in 2012, the campaign has spent a combined $12.25 million on online advertising alone.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal this month, Karl Rove, a GOP strategist who was a senior adviser to Mr. Bush, said these fixed costs are particularly troublesome because they can’t be stopped on a dime like other campaign costs, such as a television ad buy or adjusting the size of phone banks.
“These are tougher [expenses] to unwind or delay,” Mr. Rove wrote. “Left unaltered, they generally lead to even more frantic efforts to both raise money and stop other spending.”
Mr. Rove also pointed to reports that the White House in early March told congressional Democrats not to expect any money for their campaigns from the Democratic National Committee and Obama for America this year. That money, they said, would be devoted exclusively to the president’s re-election.
Even so, Mr. Obama’s fundraising has far outpaced any of his likely Republican rivals, including Mr. Romney. But Democrats remain deeply concerned about the pro-GOP super PACs, the power of the ads they fund, and the Democrats’ inability so far to compete with them through independent groups of their own.
After blasting their formation and calling them a “threat to democracy,” Mr. Obama’s campaign has embraced them, recently announcing that many of his aides, as well as current and former members of his Cabinet, would appear at fundraisers for Priorities USA Action, a super PAC supporting him.
But Priorities USA Action has struggled to compete with its GOP counterparts. It reported raising just $2 million in February, half of which came from comedian Bill Maher, bringing its total raised for the election so far to nearly $6.5 million. That pales in comparison with Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting Mr. Romney, which has spent $37.9 million against other Republicans so far in the GOP primary alone.