Study Of Pre-Primary Fundraising Suggests No GOP Candidate Could Have Beaten Obama

A new analysis by the University of Arkansas reveals the fragmentation of the GOP.

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Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he would have fared better than GOP nominee Mitt Romney against President Obama.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he would have fared better than GOP nominee Mitt Romney against President Obama.

On Thursday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told The Huffington Post he "would have probably done better" against President Barack Obama than GOP nominee Mitt Romney. But a new study from the University of Arkansas suggests no matter who the GOP nominee was, the outcome would have been the same.

An analysis of fundraising during the primary campaign in 2011 found Republicans were doomed from the beginning because of a fragmented party. It determined no single candidate or even cluster of candidates with ideological commonalities drew decisive levels of support. And donors often chose not to give elsewhere once their candidate of choice dropped out.

"No one could have unified the GOP," study co-author Andrew Dowdle tells Whispers. "The Republicans started out so divided in their donors that it was hard for them to aggregate support."

[ENJOY: Political Cartoons on the Republican Party]

Dowdle's analysis shows Gingrich had nearly 10,000 direct donors in the pre-primary season, while businessman Herman Cain had some 12,000, and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas around 23,000. With 35,000 direct donors, Romney had his primary opponents beat. Still, that was roughly the same amount of pre-primary donors he had when he ran four years ago.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he would have fared better than GOP nominee Mitt Romney against President Obama.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he would have fared better than GOP nominee Mitt Romney against President Obama.

"For Romney, it was not a question of deficit in terms of money," says Dowdle, noting Romney had no trouble attracting mega-donors like Republican business magnate Sheldon Adelson. "The real deficit was at the individual level, the small donors who are the people willing to not only donate but also knock on doors, or talk up Romney in church."

By comparison, the report found that Obama had almost 77,000 individual donors in 2007 and some 83,500 in 2011.

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  • Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook or reach her at eflock@usnews.com.