By Justin Sink and Amie Parnes - 09/21/12 03:55 AM EDT
President Obama ended the month of August with almost twice as much money to spend as his Republican rival, according to campaign finance reports filed Thursday. But the Republican National Committee had more than ten times the cash on hand as their Democratic counterparts, more than neutralizing the president's advantage.
Obama ended the month of August with $88.8 million, compared to just $50.4 million for the Romney campaign. The Romney figure includes $15 million in loans that must be repaid, meaning that the candidate actually entered the month with access to around $35.4 million — less than 40 percent of Obama's total.
Obama's advantage comes thanks to a stronger fundraising month in August that saw the president bring in $84.7 million, outpacing Romney's $66.6 million haul. In turn, Obama was able to spend more: the president had receipts totaling $83.7 million, versus around $66.4 million for the Romney campaign.
A good portion of the money—about $25 million—came from small donors who made contributions of $200 or less.
Katie Hogan, a deputy press secretary to the Obama campaign, said that the efforts of more than 3 million donors “show that the grassroots continue to be the backbone of this campaign.”
“Due to the incredible growth in grassroots donors that we have seen to our campaign, Obama for America just filed the largest FEC report by almost double this election cycle,” Hogan wrote in an e-mail to reporters on Thursday evening. “We are proud that our report is about 170,000 pages long in August, up from 90,000 pages in July."
The super-PAC affiliated with the president also bested the group associated with Mitt Romney in August. Priorities USA Action, the Obama group, raised $10.1 million, beating out the Romney-supporting Restore Our Future's $7 million haul. That's the first time Obama's super-PAC has bested Romney, and represents the Democratic group's best month to date.
Still, Democrats could not entirely rejoice in a fundraising victory. Because of a quirk in election law, much of the money Mitt Romney raised throughout the early months of the general election has been retained by the Republican National Committee, inaccessible until Romney formally accepted the nomination.
That's given the national Republican organization a huge cash advantage over its Democratic counterpart. According to filings, the RNC ended August with $76.6 million cash on hand, more than ten times the DNC's $7.1 million.
RNC chairman Reince Priebus gleefully noted the disparity on Twitter Thursday night, posting figures from the fundraising reports highlighting the disparity. RNC communications director Sean Spicer tweeted, "I am starting to understand [wh]y OFA thr[ew] under the bus," an apparent reference to reports that the Obama campaign had been unhappy with the performance of DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Added together, Obama and the DNC entered September with $95.9 million. The Romney campaign and the RNC, minus the outstanding loan, had $112 million available, meaning even despite a record-setting month for Democrats, Republicans held a marginal advantage heading into the last two months of the campaign.