WASHINGTON – President Obama raised nearly $5 in Maine for every dollar Republican challenger Mitt Romney collected within the state last month, a far wider gap than occurred nationally.
Maine residents donated roughly $277,600 to Obama’s campaign in August compared to $57,300 to Romney’s campaign, according to an analysis of campaign finance reports filed late Thursday with the Federal Elections Commission. The figures include donations directly to the candidates’ campaigns or donations to affiliated political action committees — Obama Victory Fund 2012 and Romney Victory Inc. — that were transferred to the campaigns.
Nationally, the president also outpaced his Republican challenger, albeit by a smaller gap. Obama raised $84.7 million in August and still had $88.8 million left to spend thanks to months of aggressive fundraising. Romney, meanwhile, received $66.6 million in donations — not including a $20 million loan — and had roughly $50.4 million remaining in his campaign war chest as of the end of August.
An Associated Press analysis of nationwide donations found that while Romney continues to do better than Obama with donors who give $200 or more, the president surpassed Romney in that category in 10 of 11 key battleground states in recent months.
In Maine, the Romney campaign received about 230 donations in August averaging $246 each, although the actual contributions ranged from just a few dollars to the maximum $2,500 allowed under federal law. Obama, meanwhile, received 10 times as many donations during the month but half as much in each check, with 2,300 donations averaging about $120 each.
Those numbers didn’t surprise Ben Grant, chairman of the Maine Democratic Party.
“Maine has supported Democratic candidates for five (presidential) election cycles and we’re going on six this year,” Grant said. “We were very supportive of the president in 2008 and then again this year.”
Grant’s counterpart in the Maine Republican Party, Charlie Webster, not surprisingly had a different take on the numbers.
“People who vote Republican in Maine tend to be blue-collar workers, truck drivers, electricians, hair dressers and we don’t have a lot of money to give to politicians,” Webster said. But while he couldn’t speak to donations to the national party, Webster said the Maine Republican Party has nearly doubled the number of smaller donations it has received during the past several years.
The fundraising gap in Maine is even larger when looking at the election cycle to date, although part of the disparity is attributable to the fact that, unlike the president, Romney had to compete against a large field of Republican primary opponents also courting Maine donors.
Obama’s overall total for Maine as of Aug. 31 stood at $1.8 million, compared to $304,000 for Romney, according to FEC reports
Interestingly, the disparity between the president and Romney is similar to the gap between Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain during the 2008 campaign. In 2008, Obama collected $5 for every dollar raised by McCain in Maine — or $2.3 million compared to $470,000. Obama won the state with 58 percent of the vote.
Breaking down presidential giving in Maine, both candidates are receiving the most money from donors in southern Maine.
FEC reports show that donors living in ZIP codes whose first three digits are 040 and 041 — more densely populated areas stretching from Kennebunkport to Portland — were responsible for more than half of the contributions to both campaigns.
Portland-area residents, for instance, have contributed more than $560,000 of the $1.8 million raised by Obama so far. But the president has already received hefty financial support — by Maine standards, at least — in the ZIP codes of midcoast Maine up through the Ellsworth-Bar Harbor area as well as in the Bangor region.
Although Obama is widely expected to win Maine again, Republicans are hoping to make history by helping Romney pick up one of Maine’s four Electoral College votes. Such a scenario is possible because Maine is one of only two states in the nation — the other being Nebraska — that do not have a winner-take-all system for awarding electors.
Instead, Maine awards two electoral votes to the overall winner in the state and then one vote to the winner of each of two congressional districts. As part of that campaign, the party recently added “Victory Offices” in the more conservative 2nd District.
A poll released this week by the Maine People’s Resource Center showed that Obama had a 16.2-point lead statewide but was winning by only 6.8 percent in the 2nd District.
Webster said that, despite the fundraising figures, he believes Obama supporters may be surprised on Election Day by the level of support for Romney among rural, blue-collar Mainers such as those he was talking to Friday at the Farmington Fair.
“What I’m hearing from people here is they’re not voting for Obama,” he said
Washington Bureau Chief Kevin Miller can be contacted at 317-6256 or at:
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