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Obama on track for first $1 billion campaign

The notion seemed almost astounding two years ago, when Republican strategists first predicted Obama could raise that much money for his re-election bid. For their part, Obama campaign officials discounted the idea that they were aiming that high, telling donors that their goal was to bring in “north of $750 million,” which would break the $745 million record Obama set in 2008.

Obama surpassed that mark by Aug. 31. By then, he had raised $766 million between his re-election campaign, the Democratic National Committee and two joint fundraising committees, according the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute.

To reach $1 billion, the president would need to bring in $117 million in both September and October. That seems well within his reach: Obama’s campaign and the DNC together raised nearly $115 million in August. Their take was likely even bigger in September, thanks in part to the Democratic National Convention, where campaign manager Jim Messina urged supporters to embrace a new method of donation via text messaging.

Meanwhile, Republican challenger Mitt Romney had raised $669 million between his campaign, the Republican National Committee and a joint fundraising committee as of Aug. 31. At his current pace, he is on track to bring in close to $900 million, surpassing the $800 million goal set by his campaign.

It’s the small contributions that have given Obama the edge over Romney in the money race. Through August, Obama had raised $147 million from donors who had given $200 or less — 34 percent of his receipts from individuals, according to the CFI.

Romney, meanwhile, had raised $39.5 million from small donors, just 18 percent of his total.

Indeed, for all of the talk about the role of mega donors in financing super PACs and other outside groups this year, Obama’s fundraising success has underscored the value of creating a vast network of small donors.

“Almost the entire campaign fundraising advantage that Obama has over Romney is due to small donors,” said Michael Malbin, the institute’s executive director. “They were the big story of 2008 and then everybody thought they were going be overshadowed in 2012. I think they’re the overlooked story. They not only supply money to candidates, but they supply enthusiasm. And in a race that’s going to come down to mobilization in key battleground states, that enthusiasm becomes crucial.”

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©2012 Tribune Co.

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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