WASHINGTON (AP) — Showing impressive momentum, President Barack Obama raised more in high-dollar contributions than Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney during the last two months in 10 of 11 battleground states that are pivotal to win the presidential election, according to an analysis of new campaign financial reports by The Associated Press.
Importantly, Romney's campaign has raised more money from donors who gave over $200 than Obama's organization overall since May in four of those 11 battleground states — in some cases by wide margins, such as $21 million for Romney in Florida versus $11.2 million there for Obama. And nationally, Romney has continued to out-fundraise Obama.
Yet Obama made especially impressive gains last month in Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.
The new financial figures, current through the end of August, do not reflect a slam dunk for Obama's campaign. But as much as the act of donating more than $200 to a politician is a measure of popular support, the figures present another challenge for Romney in key states with only six weeks before Election Day.
They also represent a precursor to what has been one of the most difficult periods in Romney's candidacy. Romney has struggled this week to quell controversy over a secretly recorded video in which he told donors that 47 percent of the country pays no taxes and is dependent on government, amid fresh signs of a national housing rebound and growing support for Obama in public opinion polls.
For example, in Florida, with its 29 winner-take-all electoral votes, Obama raised $5.5 million in itemized contributions in July and August compared to $3.7 million for Romney during the same period. In Ohio, with 18 electoral votes and also considered a keystone for a winning campaign, Obama raised $2.3 million compared to $1.3 million for Romney, during the same period.
The AP's analysis doesn't include the tens of millions of dollars in advertisements from super political action committees and doesn't include details about donors who gave fewer than $200 because they aren't required to be listed on the federal reports.
"The president's picking up traction in battleground states he carried before," said R. Donahue Peebles, a major Obama fundraiser in New York. "As the election nears, people are paying more attention. The donors who had been sitting on the sidelines are now getting involved and are more engaged."
Obama four years ago broke presidential fundraising records but has found himself financially outgunned for much of the summer, thanks in part to super PACs supporting Romney. Those groups have been largely bankrolled by wealthy Americans and have flourished under recent legal changes that loosened campaign-finance regulations. Obama has similar groups working in his favor, although not as successfully.
Obama's campaign pulled in $114 million in August, slightly more than Romney's $111.6 million. Unlike Obama, Romney raised more than $100 million nationwide for at least three consecutive months this summer.
Romney and the Republican Party had $168.5 million cash on hand versus Obama and the Democrats' $125 million left in the bank. Romney also took out a $20 million loan on Aug. 22; he had repaid at least $5 million of that by the end of August, reports show.
For Obama, pulling ahead of Romney hasn't been easy, particularly for a campaign that has repeatedly and publicly acknowledged it will be outspent. Romney showed remarkable successes in some battleground states earlier this year. He raised $7.6 million in Florida in May, compared to $1.5 million for Obama; Romney raised $3.7 million in Ohio in June compared to $545,000 for Obama.
In Virginia, which broke tradition in 2008 and awarded its 13 electoral votes to Obama, Obama out-raised Romney by roughly 2-to-1 during the last two months. Romney had raised more in Virginia than Obama during the preceding May and June.
The new financial reports also showed that some wealthy executives who have given tens of millions of dollars to super PACs this election didn't give any more money last month, including Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and Texas businessman Harold Simmons. Some major donors have chosen to give instead to super PACs' nonprofit arms, which don't have to reveal their donors but must focus their ads on political issues.