Recent fundraising totals for both major political parties and their presumed candidates show the money race is closer than most expected. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, in combination with the Republican National Committee, raked in a total of $40.1 million in April. The Democratic National Committee and President Obama pulled in a slightly larger amount of $43.6 million.
With a little more than 160 days until voters go to the polls for the presidential and congressional elections, both Republicans and Democrats are trying to gather money from all available sources. And even through Romney still trails Obama in total dollars raised, Democrats are starting to wonder if Romney and the GOP can quickly close the gap.
"We are pleased with the strong support we have received from Americans across the country who are looking for new leadership in the White House," Spencer Zwick, chairman of Romney Victory, told The Hill. "Along with the hard work of the Republican National Committee, we will continue to raise the funds necessary to defeat President Obama in November."
Romney, with his own personal connections to some of the party's most wealthy donors, was expected to raise big bucks but still lag behind the tremendous fundraising advantage of an incumbent president.
At the end of March, Romney reported about $10 million in the bank compared to Obama's $104 million statement balance.
Romney saw his fundraising total increase in April in large part because his other three rivals stepped aside, allowing him to jointly fundraise with the RNC and to accept checks as large as $75,000 per person. And because he had no opposition in the Democratic primary, President Obama has been able to take advantage of the same arrangement for the past several months.
However, when contributions from super PACs (whose contributions are unlimited) are added to committees that support Romney, reports show the Republicans outraised the Obama backers $402 million to $340 million this cycle.
An analysis of recent fundraising reports filed with the Federal Election Commission on Sunday show that President Obama's total take took a slight dip in April. Fundraising experts say this is due in large part to an unenthusiastic Democratic electorate.
What may be the most alarming is that the main super-PAC supporting President Obama saw support fall in April to $1.6 million from the $2.5 million it raked in during March, which was the largest fundraising month to date.
Democratic strategists and party officials have another to worry and that is whether President Obama's announcement that he supports same-sex marriage will further dampen the spirits of some potential contributors.
"That may be case with the average, blue-collar Democratic contributor but it hasn't been the case with the Hollywood crowd," said Ben Kirk, a GOP fundraiser and consultant. "I expect to see the elite ranks of the Democrats ante up in next couple of months when the Obama fundraisers start calling."
Actor George Clooney recently held a fundraiser in Los Angeles for President Obama that raised $15 million.