The Republican Party is in disarray and its leading candidates for the 2012 elections are way behind Obama in fundraising. Obama’s image-management is far better too than anything the Republicans can manage. It will be even worse for the Republicans if the US defaults on his debt, writes Luke Cahill.
As the talks to raise the debt ceiling proceed before the 2nd of August deadline, the 2012 election cycle rumbles on, the first fundraising returns are in and they reveal a predictable picture.
President Obama has raised $86 million far outstripping his Grand Old Party (GOP) rivals for fundraising and thus greatly increasing his own chances of re-election. Of the money that was donated, $47 million went directly to Obama’s re-election campaign with the remainder going to the Democratic National Committee funds. Former Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Jim Messina and now the Obama campaign manager, said “The first few weeks of this campaign have been a test of our grassroots strength, and the results are in…Our supporters are back, they’re energized.”
Messina, in trying to emphasise the fact that the donations came from ordinary people, instead of large corporate donors, is attempting to boost Obama’s image of popular support. Obama successfully portrayed himself as the outsider, now that he is the establishment he has to play a smarter game. The goal for this quarter was $60 million, but no target was released for the next round of fundraising. Obama will rely heavily on big traditional donors like the AFL-CIO union and traditional Democrats. However, he needs other sources of revenue to avoid being over reliant on a base that could drag his campaign to the Left, and thus alienate him from the ever raising and much sought after support of the registered independents.
On the GOP side however, frontrunner Mitt Romney raised “only” $18 million dollars with Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman both raising $4 million. As a result of these figures it is clear that the GOP field, while still in flux, with both Rick Perry and Sarah Palin due to make announcements in the coming weeks, is beginning to settle down. Romney’s fundraising has confirmed him as the man to catch, while Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House, raising $2 million confirming his campaign is floundering following two embarrassing blunders and is not expected to last long. It is unclear if Perry enters whether he will be able to catch up. Yet, given his staunch fiscal and social conservatism, and thus his popularity with many grassroots Republicans, he is likely to be able to get enough supporters to get his campaign off the ground, if he announces soon.
There is much attention turning to former governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, who has said that a decision on whether she will run will be made sometime between August and September. If Palin is running however, she would have entered the field by now, and if she is running has probably left it so late to start a campaign – making it ineffective and shortlived. In a recent poll Palin came third, just in front of Rick Perry, who technically is not even running for the nomination.
The notorious Tea Party group is still as strong as ever and making its voice known supporting both Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Rick Perry, among others. One of the groups associated with it, Freedom Works, founded by Dick Armey former House Majority Leader, has criticised the ongoing talks to raise the raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. Freedom Works called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “spineless” during recent negotiations. Senator McConnell has a difficult job on his hands trying to balance extremely different factions within the GOP.
He has to pacify the desire of the Tea Party, who refuse to countenance any tax increases, while at the same time has to find room for a deal with the administration. He also preserve his own flank with an eye to the GOP candidates hoping to make gains in the entire House and thirty three Senate seats up for grabs on the same day as the presidential election next November. McConnell is doing this while trying to avoid being blamed for ruining the US economic reputation if the debt ceiling is not raised on time.
Bachmann said that a default would still mean that Social Security cheques would be sent out on 3 August, in direct contradiction to what President Obama said. It is certain that a U.S. default would be apocalyptic with world markets going into free fall and the interest on US debt soaring, while the ability of US consumers to spend would have collapsed taking much of the demand out of the world economy destroying any chance of world economic recovery.
If the US does default, which is unlikely, most voters would blame the Republicans. The Obama administration seeks a more comprehensive cut to the $3.8 trillion federal budget. Obama is looking to seize on Republican intransigence and help secure his historic legacy.
To read Luke Cahill’s other articles visit Luke Cahill’s Politics On Toast blog. This article is (C) Politics on Toast and Luke Cahill.