By JACK GILLUM, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who is out-fundraising President Barack Obama by impressive margins, is attracting thousands of donors this summer from traditionally Democratic areas of the United States, collecting millions of dollars in even progressive communities from New York to Los Angeles, according to an analysis by The Associated Press of new campaign data.
Donors from tony neighborhoods of Manhattan to even the famously liberal Castro neighborhood in San Francisco helped Romney and the GOP outraise Obama by more than $25 million in July, beating him and the Democratic Party in contributions for a third consecutive month, the AP analysis showed.
Romney collected at least $630,000 by mid-summer from New York City, the home to major Romney fundraiser and New York Jets owner Woody Johnson. More than $100,000 of that came from investment bankers, who have cooled to Obama since he supported tougher regulations for Wall Street following the financial meltdown and housing crisis in recent years.
More than 2,000 miles away on the West Coast, Romney collected at least $350,000 since June in the San Francisco Bay Area alone, with average contributions of $400 apiece. The Bay Area is also the home of Dick Boyce, a former partner of Romney's at Bain Capital and a GOP super PAC donor who is active in fundraising for Romney this election.
The money race has become a critical bellwether in the presidential campaign, which is expected to cost more than $1 billion. Obama is not only losing the money race but also is being outspent on the airwaves, thanks to millions of dollars in ads from independent "super" political committees funded by wealthy donors who oppose Obama and his policies.
Romney and the Republican Party are also making financial inroads in traditionally liberal cities across the nation, including Austin, Texas, and Obama's hometown of Chicago. These include small and large contributions, from $200 to the maximum $30,800 allowed under federal law to political parties each year.
In Denver, the home of the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Romney supporters this summer contributed more than $400,000 — enough to pay rent, utilities and staff for a campaign field office. And in Philadelphia, where Obama handily beat Sen. John McCain four years ago, Romney took in more than $250,000 since early June.
Romney's campaign has made a furious effort in recent months to step up its fundraising against Obama, who came to office four years ago with a fundraising operation that brought in a record-breaking $750 million for his election. Romney's campaign set an ambitious goal earlier this year of more than $100 million by summer's end with a goal of $800 million by November.
But now, Obama and his advisors publicly acknowledge the president will likely be outspent by November. Romney and the GOP reported a combined $101 million in fundraising last month, while Obama and the Democrats together said they raised $75 million.
Romney supporters have pointed to a withered economy and have said failed promises are driving contributions to the former Massachusetts governor's campaign for the last two months. A Florida donor for Romney, who raised $10,000 alone at a lunch this week, said donors represented to him they are mostly upset with the economy or are business owners unhappy with regulations. The donor spoke on condition of anonymity because he's not allowed to speak for the campaign.
The AP's analysis mapped addresses of a quarter-million donors to the GOP or Romney's presidential campaign. It then cross-referenced those records with traditionally Democratic city or metro area boundaries and examined ZIP codes for which donors have seldom, if ever, contributed to the Republican candidate.
The analysis excluded supporters who gave fewer than $200 because, under federal law, campaigns aren't required to disclose details about such small contributions. High-dollar donors have been essential to Romney's election effort, unlike Obama, who relies on a greater share of smaller checks.
The Democratic National Committee and Obama both spent more than they took in last month as the president expanded his campaign operations and purchased millions of dollars in television advertising to compete with rival Mitt Romney and millions of dollars in super PAC ads working in his favor.
To be sure, while Romney for now has a significant financial advantage, he is trailing Obama in terms of paid staffers who in part coordinate the campaign's ground operations. The new finance reports show Obama's campaign paid about 800 staffers around the nation — not counting volunteers — while Romney had fewer than half that number.
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