What $86 Million Can Do for Obama

How his cash advantage will help him get a fast start against the GOP

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Filling Republican counterparts with envy, President Obama's 2012 campaign manager announced a record fundraising effort this morning of $86 million for the first quarter. With $47 million going to his re-election campaign Obama for America and $38 million to the Democratic National Committee, Obama's war chest far outstrips his nearest rivals'. Mitt Romney raised $18.25 million in the quarter ending on June 30, while Tim Pawlenty took in $4.2 million and Jon Huntsman raised $4.1 million. (Michele Bachmann has not yet reported her fundraising efforts.) So what kind of advantage does the haul, which Politico's Glenn Thrush calls a "shock and awe showing," give the president at this stage in the 2012 race? Here's what reporters and pundits are pointing out:

This is big for advertising, writes Michael Shear at The New York Times: "The money raised by the president will allow early advertising efforts to push back against criticism of the president coming from the Republican presidential candidates and from outside groups about Mr. Obama's handling of the economy."

By comparison, the GOP is floundering, writes Caitlin Huey-Burns at Real Clear Politics. "With no Democratic challenger and the advantage of incumbency, Obama's campaign is able to focus the money it raises on the 2012 general election while the Republican contenders need to funnel much of their cash into the primary contest," she writes. "By this time four years ago, the 10 Republican presidential candidates had raised more than $118 million combined, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Still, the field has been slow to form in this election cycle and rumored candidates such as Rick Perry and Sarah Palin--both savvy fundraisers--could join the fray."

Helps with electioneering infrastructure, notes Obama campaign manager Jim Messina as reported by The Times. "He said the campaign already has 60 field offices across the country and will be opening more in the months to come."

But keep corporate spending in mind, warns Evan McMorris-Santoro at Talking Points Memo. "While Obama's numbers are huge, the nature of political spending in the post-Citizens United decision era could make them less important," he writes, noting that Obama's campaign manager estimates that pro-GOP outside spending could add up to as much as  $500 million. "Obama and the Democrats have their own Citizens United-style anonymous spending groups, though they expect to be outspent by Republican-leaning undisclosed cash."

Obama's advantage is exaggerated, writes conservative writer Jonathan Tobin at Commentary. "The party that has control of the White House always has an enormous advantage in raising money, so while Democrats can be glad they surpassed their goals for the last quarter, this ought not to be interpreted as an indication that 2012 will be a Democratic year," he writes. "The fact is, other than Romney, the most compelling figures in the Republican race are just getting started raising money. Rep. Michele Bachmann has vaulted ahead in the Iowa polls and is establishing herself as a first-tier threat to the frontrunner, but she has yet to report her totals from the last three months. Of all the numbers that come in by the July 15 reporting deadline, Bachmann’s will be the most interesting since it will give us a better idea of just how successful her grass roots Internet campaign has been."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.