President Obama is struggling to draw in big-dollar donations, with half as many people writing large checks to his campaign than at this point four years ago.
Obama is outpacing his Republican rivals in fundraising overall, and his advisers have concentrated on amassing small-dollar backers, part of a strategy to get more people invested in the reelection effort. At the end of January, 1.4 million people had donated to the Obama campaign, responding to appeals for contributions as small as $2.
But Obama lags behind Republican front-runner Mitt Romney in finding donors willing to give $2,000 or more — a surprising development for a sitting president, and one that could signal more worrisome financial problems heading into the general election
As the story notes, there are a combination of likely factors here.
1) The economy sucks. I donated $1,000 to candidate Obama in 2008, but I don’t have any extra money to give to anyone at this point.
2) A lot of people are happy-er with the President than they were the first two-years-plus of his presidency, but no one is singing “Yes We Can” this time around. The bloom is off the rose, partly through attrition and partly because President Obama seemed less willing to fight for the presidency after he got it, and it soured a lot of people on the man. And once people start questioning who you are as a person, it’s difficult to ever win them back completely. That’s not to say you can’t win the back sufficiently to vote for you again, to support you, to defend you, but I’m not sure you can ever recapture the love once it’s lost.
I think the President made a mistake, during the campaign and after the election. He doesn’t seem to relish maintaining relationships, at least political ones. I know a number of people, who far outrank me in importance, who did some seriously heavy lifting during the campaign and felt it was never truly appreciated. The same feeling, and concern, has persisted about now-President Obama – the man does not woo. And that leaves people feeling taken advantage of, in the same way that many Democratic voters, who expected the President to come out swinging for a number of his proposals once elected, felt that many of his legislative efforts, until lately, were only half-hearted. Failure to fight for a promise; again a failure to woo.
As an aside, when I attended the White House Christmas party in December with my sister Kathy, and granted our encounter with the President and First Lady was all of 8 seconds long, but both my sister and I noticed the same thing. The President in greeting us was rather meh. The First Lady came off as vibrant, energetic, fun. But not him. She was interested in us personally as fellow Illinoisans, and she left both of us thinking she was beautiful, and wanting to know her better (and she pulled all of that off in under ten seconds). You shouldn’t meet the leader of the free world and leave wanting to share a beer with his wife.
I’m not convinced that the President can’t turn this around, and I think he’s begun to, by fighting a lot harder for things lately, and a lot harder against the GOP. But I think the President would have been in a much better stead vis-a-vis voters and donors, and the country would be in a much better position economically, had the turnaround happened sooner.
But he is turning around, and it has been successful to date. He just needs to keep at it.