For the first time in the presidential election, Mitt Romney blasted past President Obama in the campaign fundraising race last month. Romney and the GOP pulled in $76.8 million in May, compared to just $60 million for Obama and the Democrats. Romney raked in twice as much in May as he did in April, and he's off to a red-hot start in June, pocketing $15 million in Texas in the first several days of the month. Here, three takeaways from the latest numbers:
1. Romney is defying historical precedent
Romney's haul "is historic for a Republican presidential candidate," say Luke Johnson and Sam Stein at The Huffington Post. "By way of comparison: Sen. John McCain raised $21 million in May during the 2008 presidential campaign." Everyone expected Obama, who was able to outspend McCain by wide margins in every battleground state, to enjoy a similar advantage this time around, too. But after Romney raised an astounding $103,000 per hour in May, it seems the president will have to hustle just to keep up.
2. But we shouldn't be surprised by the Romney money boom
It shouldn't be shocking that Romney doubled his April total, says Seth Cline at U.S. News & World Report. The end of the GOP primary means the party's donors are now sending all their checks to the same person. And Romney has formed a joint fundraising group with the Republican National Committee, meaning the entire party apparatus has started working for him. And as Team Obama noted, Romney became eligible to "collect a new round of maximum donations from his top primary backers" once he entered the general election, says Benjy Sarlin at Talking Points Memo. In the primary campaign, the cap on donations was $2,500. But Mitt's new Victory Fund — part of his joint coordination with the RNC — can accept donations of up to $75,800.
3. Regardless, Obama fans are worried
The president will still have more than enough cash on hand to "get his message out," says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. So the new numbers' real significance is what they say about the enthusiasm gap. In 2008, liberals "used Obama's fundraising prowess to tout the groundswell of excitement he generated." Now the enthusiasm is in the GOP camp, and "Obama's own side has doubts he can win. (Why throw money down the drain?)." The "mirage of invincibility" created by Obama's campaign war chest is gone. Let the Democratic panicking commence.