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Romney Beats Obama In May Fundraising, Recalling Kerry Vs. Bush In 2004

In May, Mitt Romney's campaign effort raised more than President Obama's for the first time.
Justin Sullivan
Getty Images
In May, Mitt Romney's campaign effort raised more than President Obama's for the first time.

-- Updated at 4:33 pm ET --

No question Republicans supporting Mitt Romney's White House bid should and will be pleased that his campaign raised more money in May than President Obama's effort.

As our sister news blog, NPR's The Two Way, reported, Romney's campaign and the Republican National Committee raised nearly $77 million in May compared with $60 million raised by Obama and the Democratic National Committee. It was the first time Romney's combined efforts raised more than Obama's for a given period.

Here's something worth remembering, however. Back in 2004, the last time a president with so-so voter approval ratings — George W. Bush — ran for re-election, he was outraised in May by Sen. John Kerry, the Democrat who at that time was his party's all-but-official presidential nominee. (h/t Nick Confessore at the New York Times.) Kerry, of course, ultimately lost to Bush though that's not to be taken as an omen this time around.

From an old George Washington University website called Democracy in Action with a summary of Kerry's May 2004 fundraising results:

"May 2004 (June Monthly Report): In May the campaign reported outraising the Bush campaign for the third straight month and reaching its 2004 goal of $100 million nearly 2 months early. In the month the campaign raised $10.8 million from direct mail and phones (141,000 contributions from mail and phones in the month) and over $9 million at JohnKerry.com (90,000 contributions)."

Both the Republican and Democratic efforts boasted of receiving many of their contributions from small donors who gave $250 or less. The campaigns use that as a proxy for how much grassroots support each has as well as for a level of excitement they hope will extend into November.

Romney's campaign said 93 percent of all donations came from those smaller donors; the Obama campaign said 98 percent of its donors gave less than $250, a measure that would presumably exclude donations of $250.

But in a telling statistic, the Romney effort said only $12 million, or about 16 percent of its contributions, came from small donors. The Obama campaign didn't provide a similar percentage in the information it initially released.

-- Update -- A blast email from Jim Messina, Obama's campaign manager, to supporters appears to answer the question as to how much of the $60 million collected in May came from the under-$250 crowd. Messina wrote:

"We know that only 15 percent of Romney's May totals came from people giving less than $250, compared to 98 percent in that category for us."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Frank James joined NPR News in April 2009 to launch the blog, "The Two-Way," with co-blogger Mark Memmott.