It's a point I make often -- in fact, regular readers may think I try to pound it into the ground -- that people generally don't vote for things, but against things. I suppose the same goes for fundraising. It's a lot easier to get people to open their wallets to stop something than to start something. This is why negative campaigning works; it's all about being against something. Candidate X voted for a bill I don't like and candidate X must be stopped.
There isn't anything wrong with this in and of itself. Progress is impossible without preventing backsliding. And, although it might appear to the contrary, it seems to make progress possible. Progress is always opposed and whether something moves forward or not seems to depend on the weakness of the opposition (in most cases), rather than the strength of the support.
Anyway, this whole theory of mine goes a long way toward explaining this:
[Talking Points Memo:]
The latest fundraising numbers from President Obama's reelection effort are jaw-dropping and represent the kind of haul Republicans have been warning their supporters about for months.
In a video sent to reporters and supporters Wednesday morning, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina announced $86 million in total fundraising between April and June of this year. Messina said $47 million went to the Obama campaign itself, while $38 million went to the DNC.
The combined goal was $60 million. In the end, Obama's fundraising forces burst through that goal by more than $20 million, which is more than Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney raised in total.
Politico puts the amount in deeper context, reporting, "The $86 million raised for Obama’s reelection easily doubles -- and nearly triples -- all the major GOP candidates to announce so far, combined. While there are a few Republicans who haven’t shared their numbers, including Michele Bachmann, the group that includes Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman and Newt Gingrich has taken in just $33.1 million."
What's surprising about this is that Obama's support among Democrats is actually pretty weak. The 2008 enthusiasm for the guy is pretty much gone -- whittled away in compromise after compromise -- but he's still able to raise a significant amount of money.
Of course, the incumbent's advantage applies to fundraising, too. Those who want a friend in the White House are going to play the odds. And, since the odds are that the incumbent wins, that candidate generally gets the bulk of that influence-seeking cash.
But the rest comes from individuals and issue-oriented PACS -- things like pro-choice groups, labor groups, environmental organizations, gay rights groups, etc. It's here that the "voting against things" idea kicks in. Faced with a truly crazy GOP, these organizations have seen their fundraising skyrocket. For example, Planned Parenthood's fundraising is up, in response to attacks from both national and local Republicans. Likewise, labor groups are seeing an increase. A lot of that money's going to find its way into the president's reelection fund.
And who can blame them? Republicans are engaging in an insane overreach nationwide, acting as if they'd been elected unanimously. Unions are under attack, education is under attack, women's health services are under attack, the environment is under attack, consumer protection is under attack.
Worse, the Republican presidential candidates are currently in a contest to see who can be the most insane. Want to raise a lot of money from pro-choice or gay groups? Send out a flyer showing Michele Bachmann's latest poll numbers in the GOP primary, along with a list of things she's said.
I can guarantee, those people will be against that.