Mitt Romney and the Republican Party raised $170 million in September, nearly matching the $181 million raised by President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party during the month, which trails only Obama's $191 million haul in September 2008 as the most ever raised in a month.
The candidates' massive hauls put them on the precipice of the vaunted $1 billion fundraising mark. Obama, his super PAC, and his Democratic Party affiliates have now collectively raised about $950 million this cycle. Romney, his super PAC, and his Republican Party affiliates have raised about $925 million, according to federal election filings.
"With less than one month left, we will continue the hard work of raising the resources to ensure that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan can win in November and bring real change to the American people," Romney's finance chairman Spencer Zwick said in a statement.
As has been the case for most of the campaign, Romney relied mostly on larger checks. Of the $170 million donated to Romney in September, about three fourths came in the form of large contributions of $250 or more.
After outraising the president for most of the summer, Romney has now fallen short of him in consecutive months, as Obama's grassroots support surged in August and September. The president's campaign tried to emphasize its reliance on small contributions, but did not reveal how much of the $181 million it raised was actually made up of such contributions.
If you gave $5, it helped. 98% of September's contributions were $250 or less, with an average contribution of $53.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) October 6, 2012
Obama may have taken the lead for good in the money race, but Romney's September effort indicates the challenger will not lose for lack of funds.
In addition to the nearly $1 billion he and his official affiliates have raised this cycle, Romney will benefit from hundreds of millions of dollars spent on his behalf by conservative outside groups such as the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity and Karl Rove's Crossroads groups. These groups have disclosed spending about $215 million on ads attacking Obama or supporting Romney, according to the Sunlight Foundation, though the actual amount is likely much higher.
Despite this well-financed cavalry, Romney has been drowned out on TV, considered one of the most important platforms for swaying voters and gaining name recognition. Through September, Obama had aired nearly three times as many TV commercials as Romney and his conservative allies combined, according to Wesleyan Media Project and Kantar Media.
Now, with the help of these outside groups and the $191 million his campaign has on hand, Romney is expected to make up for lost time on the airwaves in the campaign's final month.
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Seth Cline is a reporter with U.S. News & World Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter.