Obama’s Re-Election Campaign: An Analysis

It was announced with much fanfare today that President Obama’s re-election campaign will make its first big FEC (Federal Elections Commission) report on 7/15/2011. $86 million will be reported.

For active supporters, the campaign released this preview video of Friday’s FEC report:
Obama 2012 Campaign: Q2 Fundraising Results

Obama Raises $86 Million for Campaign!

The Video is intended to be a pep talk for Obama supporters. However, it is much, much more than that!

First, the video tells us the mechanics of how President Obama intends to get re-elected in 2012.

Second, the video unwittingly reveals that fundraising is already behind schedule.

Let’s check it out…

Obama’s Basic Re-election Strategy

The most intriguing part of the video is the emphasis on a grassroots campaign.

Campaign manager, Jim Messina, explains in great detail how they are re-building their network of “community organizers” and “reconnecting” with the 2008 voter base… and, of course, canvassing new voters to bring them into the electoral process.

Average Donation Amount

Messina provides many statistics supporting how well the grassroots approach is working so far. He is quite proud of it.

For those who can remember all the way back to 2008, that is EXACTLY the same strategy presidential challenger Barack Obama used to get elected.

Championed by the President, it is also the same strategy used by Democrats in the disastrous 2010 mid-term elections.

Why a Grassroots Strategy Won’t Work

National Day of Action! - July 16th, 2011

In 2007-2008 then presidential hopeful, Barack Obama, organized the most successful grassroots presidential campaign in modern history. It swept a literal unknown, but charismatic speaker, into the Presidency.

Unfortunately, no matter how successful it was then, a grassroots campaign is NOT the way an incumbent gets re-elected now.

The dynamics of a re-election campaign are entirely different from a first-time election campaign. The whole political landscape has changed for Barack Obama.

Incumbents get re-elected by doing a good job. Their existing name recognition gives them a built-in advantage over their rivals. They tout their accomplishments to voters who already know them. That is how getting re-elected works.

Grassroots campaigns are for unknowns, like Jon Huntsman. It’s how they create energy, name recognition and support.

President Obama is the most recognized politician in the world. Many voters already know more about him now than they care to know.

All voters need is the answer to just one question: Why should we re-elect Barack Obama in 2012?

“Grassroots Planning Sessions” Tell All!

Grassroots Planning Sessions

The map of “grassroots planning sessions” from the video is very revealing.

Note that they are NOT evenly distributed throughout the United States.

It’s obvious that the campaign has HEAVILY targeted these states:
California, New York, Wisconsin, Michigan, North and South Carolina, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania

The campaign has had organizing meetings in other states, but they are just token organizing efforts compared to the carpet bombing that Obama is doing in the above states.

They are going after traditional Democratic strongholds:
Upper Midwest, California and the Atlantic Corridor

At this point, anyway, the campaign is ignoring traditional Republican strongholds west of the Mississippi. Notable exceptions out west are California, Colorado and Washington who are strongly Democratic.

Looks like the campaign is trying to organize in Texas, too. Why bother? Obama couldn’t get elected dog catcher in Texas.

It’s very interesting that there is a huge amount of organizing going on in Illinois. That state should be a slam dunk for Obama. Why put so much effort there when resources are needed elsewhere?

It appears that Obama is targeting states with lots of electoral votes in order to win the electoral college war as a means to get re-elected.

Where Are Donations Coming From?

Obama Campaign Fundraising Organizational Structure

The Obama Campaign has three fundraising parts:

  • OFA – “Obama for America”
  • DNC – The Democratic National Committee
  • OVF – The “Obama Victory Fund”

OFA and the DNC are independent fundraising organizations. OFA is Obama’s official re-election campaign. The DNC raises money for all Democratic candidates, including the president.

The really interesting piece of all this is the “Obama Victory Fund”. According to Messina that is a joint effort at “large events” where the proceeds are evenly split between the DNC and the OFA.

Where Donations Came From

$38 million is reported sent to the DNC in Friday’s report. That total came from the “Obama Victory Fund” collections from “large events”. That necessarily means that the OVF raised $38 million for the Obama campaign, too.

Therefore, the vast majority of fundraising so far has been through the “Obama Victory Fund”.

In other words, most of the Q2 money came from all those large fundraising events that Obama has been attending non-stop since he announced he was running for re-election.

Fundraising Not Going Well?

$86 million sounds like a lot of money, especially early in a campaign, but under the conditions it isn’t.

Here are some reasons:

  • Reported Q2 fundraising $$ are divvied between Obama’s campaign and the DNC
  • Obama got $47 million and the DNC got $38 million for other candidates
  • Obama’s self-proclaimed fundraising goal is $1 billion
  • Obama will have to average $158.8 million per quarter to get there by election day

Obama has pretty much been campaigning all over the country at fundraising events since he announced he was running. We hear about his appearances on CNN all the time.

All but about $10 million this quarter came from large fundraising events.

There are only 6 more reporting quarters between now and December of 2012. In addition to fundraising for the DNC through the “Obama Victory Fund” Obama will have to average $158.8 million/quarter for himself to meet his self-proclaimed $1 billion fundraising goal.

To meet that goal, Obama will have to average 3.4 times more fundraising $$ each quarter than will be reported this Friday.

President Obama is slow out of the blocks.


Given that President Obama already has a lock on the nomination there is no reason for Democratic contributors to be holding back on donations now.

There is no suspense. The Democratic nomination outcome is already pre-ordained. It’s not like the Republicans where the outcome is still very much in doubt and donors don’t know who to support.

In fact, it makes logical sense for Democrats to donate a lot up front now to craft a well-oiled campaign to take advantage of Republican’s while they are still disorganized.

But Democratic donors appear to be holding back.


That is the $1 billion question!


About azleader

Learning to see life more clearly... one image at a time!

Posted on Jul 13, 2011, in 2012 Elections, Election, Elections, Obama, Politics. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. A very interesting post, AZ. I assume the PACS haven’t started their giving yet. A lot of companies and organizations have fiscal years that end with September. So maybe their contributions will pick-up in October.
    I agree with your premise that re-election campaigns are not the same as first time campaigns. This could get interesting.

  2. Agreed… behind the scenes will get more interesting. Most significant in Q2 reporting is that most of the money came from large fundraising events through the “Obama Victory Fund”.

    That is where the real money came from.

    However, the reason they got such a large number of donors and low $69 per donor total is because, believe it or not… because of a special promotion!

    For each donation of $5 you got put into a hat to be picked to have a private dinner with both the President and Vice President. For real!

    The promo ended the end of the Q2 reporting period. lol!!!!

    It was heavily promoted. I probably got 50+ requests to donate for that reason.

    Obama vows not to take PAC money, of course. It gets most of its big buck funding from unions filtered in as individual rank and file union donations that look like individual citizen donations.

    Republican do similar kinda stuff… just not through unions. lol!!

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