For months, Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney could boast a significant cash advantage over President Barack Obama, whose support from super PACs came nowhere near that of the former Massachusetts governor's.
But a new infographic from Rootstrikers, a project founded by political activist Lawrence Lessig to fight the influence of money in politics, shows Obama still has his not-so-secret weapon from 2008: grassroots support.
According to Rootstrikers, Obama has raised more than $432 million in direct contributions in this election, compared to Romney's roughly $278 million. Direct contributions include donations by both political action committees and individuals.
As U.S. News reporter Seth Cline pointed out last month, that advantage may be an even bigger one for Obama than the numbers show. "In choosing to rely mostly on small donations to his own campaign committee, Obama has given his campaign much more freedom to spend how it chooses," Cline wrote, while "the ample $70,000 checks that buoyed Romney... come with strings attached" because they came from super PACs.
That difference has played out on the airwaves, where Obama was able to spend $50 million more in advertising in August than Romney did.
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Obama has spoken out a number of times against super PACs, writing on Reddit in August that the unlimited political spending groups "fundamentally threaten to overwhelm the political process over the long run and drown out the voices of ordinary citizens... I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United." (Citizens United was the 2010 Supreme Court decision that helped unleash a torrent of outside political spending.)
Last month, however, protesters interrupted an Obama campaign rally in Ohio, saying he was as guilty as Romney in allowing big money to influence politics.
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