Romney Has Less Grassroots Support Than John McCain Did

Fundraising numbers show that Romney has fewer donors and small donation cash than McCain did in 2008.

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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks to reporters on Sept. 17, 2012, about the secretly taped video.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks to reporters on Sept. 17, 2012, about the secretly taped video.

He may be closer to his opponent in the polls, but Mitt Romney has less grassroots support at this point in the race than John McCain did in 2008.

All summer, Mitt Romney and his allies racked up huge fundraising numbers. For three consecutive months, Romney and his allies out-raised President Obama, and his super PAC continuously brought in millions more per month than Obama's. But documents show Romney has raised most of this money not through small donors, but through big checks from wealthy supporters.

[READ: The Mysteries in Mitt Romney's Tax Returns.]

"I'd far rather be spending my time out in the key swing states campaigning, door-to-door if necessary, but at rallies and various meetings," Romney told reporters Monday. "But fundraising is a part of politics when your opponent decides not to live by the federal spending limits."

Romney's fundraising numbers back up his assertion that he's spent less time with average voters—most of whom don't give large donations. To go by the fundraising numbers alone, Romney has spent less time growing his grassroots donor base than McCain.

[READ: Mitt Romney Calls U.S.A. Foreign Country in His Tax Returns.]

Donations of less than $250 constitute just 17 percent of the nearly $300 million Romney has raised, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. McCain's small donor support was slightly better—20 percent of his cash came from small donations and he had more donors, despite relying on public financing for nearly 1/4 of his total haul.

Romney's financial backing remains strong, but it's largely due to outside groups rather than his own campaign.

Affiliates such as the Republican National Committee, and political action committees such as Crossroads GPS—which can accept larger chunks of cash—have allowed him to remain competitive in the money race. Without these outside groups spending on politically favorable advertising and support, the Romney campaign'sroughly $150 million fundraising shortfall to Obama would sting a lot more.

[SEE: Political Cartoons of Mitt Romney.]

Obama remains the champion of small donor support. His opponent may have changed, but in Obama's second presidential campaign, his fundraising strategy has remained mostly the same. As he did in 2008, Obama rejected public financing and chose instead to raise money through an elaborate ground game reliant on lots of small donations. In this year's election, nearly 40 percent of his cash has come from small donors. In 2008, it was 26 percent, according to CRP.

  • READ: Did Mitt Romney Release Enough of His Tax Returns?
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