WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election campaign said it had attracted more than 480,000 contributors by Thursday afternoon, as it aimed for what campaign officials have said is a goal of raising $60 million in the second quarter of this year.
At this point four years ago, when Obama was the junior senator from Illinois still working to increase his name recognition, he had 180,000 donors.
A Democratic official said most of this year's 480,000 donors had contributed small amounts. In 2008, a record 4 million individuals contributed to Obama's campaign, about one quarter of them small donors who gave $200 or less, according to the non-partisan Campaign Finance Institute in Washington.
Urging donations via email messages to past supporters and Internet messages on sites such as Twitter and Facebook, the campaign had sought to reach 450,000 contributors by midnight on Thursday, the end of the second quarter, but had raced past that figure by late afternoon.
Obama raised an unprecedented $750 million in his successful 2008 White House bid, and some experts expect him to amass a $1 billion warchest as he runs for re-election.
With a broad field of Republicans vying for their party's presidential nomination and many competitive Senate and House of Representatives races, some campaign finance experts said total 2012 U.S. election fund-raising could reach $4 billion.
Obama's campaign announced in mid-June that it would conduct a drawing for four donors, who could give as little as $5 to participate, to have dinner with Obama. It later announced that Vice President Joe Biden would also attend the dinner.
The Democratic incumbent's campaign conducted a similar donation/drawing for a chance to meet the president in 2008.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Philip Barbara)