Obama wins campaign battle, Romney wins war

Posted: October 13, 2012

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — The tale of local fundraising in the presidential race is one of competing quantities.

From June to Aug. 31, President Barack Obama received more than double the number of contributions of Republican nominee Mitt Romney in Winchester and Frederick and Clarke counties.

Romney, however, received nearly twice the amount of money, according to Federal Election Commission data.

During the three-month span, Romney received 121 contributions totaling $41,017, an average of $338.98 per contribution.

Obama took in $24,101 from 315 contributions, an average pledge of $76.51.

According to Geoff Skelley, media relations coordinator at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, positive news can be seen in the numbers for both candidates heading into the Nov. 6 election.

In Obama’s case, more donors could mean more grass-roots support, he said.

“But more money is also a good sign,” Skelley said. “The money can be used to reach more people.”

Through August, Obama has outraised Romney nationally $432.2 million to $274 million and has a $9.2 million to $8.1 million advantage in Virginia.

But Romney has benefited much more from “super PACs” and nonprofit outside groups, which have been spending at record levels, Skelley said.

These groups have spent a combined $187.9 million opposing the president and $66.8 million in opposition to Romney.

The Supreme Court decided in 2010 that political action committees (PACs) can accept unlimited donations — which added the “super” to PAC — but they must disclose their donors.

“Social welfare” groups can raise unlimited money and are not required to disclose their donors, as long as they are promoting the “social welfare.”

The effect has been dramatic.

With less than a month to go until the election, outside groups that are technically unaffiliated with campaigns have spent $573.7 million nationwide on various races. Much of that money comes from undisclosed contributions.

In 2008, outside groups spent $204.7 million, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

In four polls of likely Virginia voters taken since Oct. 4, Obama led in two by a combined eight points and Romney led in the other two by a combined three points.

— Contact Conor Gallagher at cgallagher@winchesterstar.com