For all those who believe that the Republican level of enthusiasm is high enough to overcome Obama’s inherent advantages as an incumbent, this is sobering information: at the end of January, Obama had $76 million in his campaign coffers. All the Republican candidates had a combined $13 million left. Mitt Romney in particular is blowing through cash like it’s going out of style – he and his Super PAC spent a whopping $32 million to win in his back yard, New Hampshire. Romney’s Super PAC is still flush (between Romney and the Super PAC, the campaign has $24 million on hand), but he’s going to be forced to spend every dime of it during this campaign.
Some will blame this lack of cash on the infighting between the candidates, forcing each candidate to pour out the cash. But the fact is this: every presidential campaign costs lots of money. Rudy Giuliani raised nearly $61 million during his 2008 campaign. So what’s the problem here? The problem is that these candidates have no way of generating any sort of enthusiasm. They’ll spend a lot … but they’re going to tap out all their donors early. And there aren’t going to be more where those came from.
This warning came months ago: enthusiasm matters. Right now, Santorum is generating enthusiasm, but it’s lukewarm, and largely based on opposition to Romney. Newt has lost all momentum. And Romney is plodding steadily along.
Obama still has enthusiasm on his side. His supporters still adore him. The unions have pledged to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on him. And he’s got the power of the bully pulpit behind him. Is Obama bulletproof? So far, the answer seems to be yes – he’s been able to singlehandedly destroy the American healthcare system, drive a recession into a prolonged and deeper recession, and turn allies into enemies all over the world. And he’s still riding at near 50% in the polls. Unless the Republicans figure out a way to generate enthusiasm quickly, this could quickly become a blowout.