- The Washington Times - Monday, September 10, 2012

President Obama raised more money in August than Mitt Romney — the first time since April — in what some analysts say is a sign that the president finally has energized his most loyal supporters.

The Obama campaign announced early Monday that it raised $114 million in August, eclipsing the $100-million mark for the first time this election cycle and edging out the $111 million raised last month by the Republican presidential nominee.

While Mr. Obama’s $3 million advantage appears negligible, experts say his real edge lies in the higher percentage of small donations that he received, which could signal that his supporters are paying more attention heading into the final eight weeks of the campaign.

“The people who give to campaigns are not your typical swing voters. They are not undecided; they are enthusiasts,” said Michael J. Malbin, executive director of the Campaign Finance Institute. “This month’s numbers tell me that the president has turned that important corner to get enthusiasm from the people he will need.”

Since emerging as the likely nominee this spring, Mr. Romney and affiliated party funds consistently had raised more money than the Obama campaign and allied Democratic campaign organizations.

He first outdrew the president $77 million to $60 million in May, and followed it up with fundraising advantages of $106 million to $71 million in June and $101 million to $75 million in July.

The president reversed the trend last month by collecting contributions from 1.1 million new donors. About 98 percent of his donations were for $250 or less, compared to 94 percent for the Romney campaign.

“Getting more people is an important campaign asset,” Mr. Malbin said. “In battleground states, the enthusiasm of base supporters will be crucial because those people will be the ones to get out the vote.”

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell said the Romney campaign will have more than enough money to last through Election Day, but said it should be concerned that Mr. Obama has not only held his position in the race but has achieved a fundraising breakthrough this close to Election Day.

Mr. O’Connell predicted that Mr. Romney must win Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Iowa — all swing states where recent polls have shown him tied or trailing — if he wants to become president, and said the GOP nominee is running out of time to sway voters.

He said Mr. Romney’s success or failure will lie in how well he is able to reach moderate voters who typically don’t give to campaigns.

“The money right now is not as big an issue for the Romney guys,” he said. “What’s really concerning them more is that the electoral map is narrowing by the day.”

• David Hill can be reached at dhill@washingtontimes.com.

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