Obama back on top in campaign fundraising for time in 3 mos.

Small contributions fuel Obama’s fundraising resurgence.

Brian Arola

After a few sputtering months, President Barack Obama’s fundraising machine appears to be well in order.

Obama edged presidential candidate Mitt Romney in campaign fundraising in August, according to figures released by the Federal Election Commission on Thursday.

Romney had out-fundraised Obama for the three preceding months.

The type of donations Romney and Obama receive are vastly different.

Twenty-two percent of Romney’s individual contributions are $200 and under, while Obama clocks in at 58 percent.

Len Biernat, professor at the Hamline University School of Law, said smaller donations are Obama’s bread-and-butter.

“Obama is very skilled at getting small donations, and he’s got a good grassroots effort,” he said. “I think that’s helping him compete with the big money that Romney’s getting.”

Biernat would know. He fundraised throughout the late ’90s and early 2000s when he was a Democratic-Farmer-Labor legislator in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

Biernat also said he disliked the process both parties go through for big-money donations.

“To some extent the big-money donors are paying for access,” he said. “I don’t like that process, but that’s the game.”

Fifty-two percent of individual contributions to Romney were $2,000 and more, outpacing Obama’s roughly 17 percent.

While Romney did fall short of Obama’s fundraising numbers last month, he still set a high for his campaign.

Holly Robichaud, a GOP strategist who blogs for the Boston Herald, said Obama’s “power of the incumbency” makes fundraising crucial for Romney.

“Even though for the last month Obama passed Romney, Romney still has a lot more cash on hand. Romney still has a significant edge as far as the dollars are going,” she said.

Robichaud said for the most part, the candidates with the biggest war chest — the total amount of funding a candidate has — will win, but it’s certainly not a guarantee.

Biernat said Romney’s recent controversial comments at a fundraiser could spell bad news for the Republican’s campaign financially.

“I think Romney’s in deep trouble by his comments, and he didn’t think he was being recorded, but he’s in the public eye. He should always be aware.”

But Robichaud said the opposite could be true, and the comments shouldn’t have a negative effect on Romney’s fundraising efforts.

“I think it will probably energize fundraising,” she said. “I think his base will be far more motivated.”

Through August, Obama has raised about $4 million in Minnesota, to Romney’s $1.6 million.

The state that gives the most contributions to each candidate is California.

Neither candidate is expected to top Obama’s record breaking fundraising haul from 2008.