Huge Number of 2008 Obama Donors Not Donating to Him for 2012

It truly sounds like that many of Barack Obama’s 2008 donors have gone from “hope and change” to giving up any hope about significant change. And that should make Mitt Romney & Co. smile in the vital fund-raising war. Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith has this eye-opening report that finds that nearly 90 percent of the people who donated to Obama in 2008 haven’t donated yet this year.

And many seem disillusioned and disappointed:

In 2008, more than 550,000 gave more than $200 to Barack Obama, entering their names in the longest list of individual donors ever seen in American politics.

That list was a snapshot of the hope Obama inspired in a cross sections of liberals, young professionals, African-Americans, and Democrats who saw in him a generational and historic moment. But now, as Obama struggles to keep pace with his 2008 fundraising clip, that list offers a cross-section of Democratic disappointment and alienation. According to a BuzzFeed analysis of campaign finance data, 88% of the people who gave $200 or more in 2008 — 537,806 people — have not yet given that sum this year. And this drop-off isn’t simply an artifact of timing. A full 87% of the people who gave $200 — the sum that triggers an itemized report to the Federal Elections Commission — through April of 2008, 182,078 people, had not contributed by the end of last month.

Interviews with dozens of those drop-off donors reveal the stories of Democrats who still plan to pull the lever for the president, but whose support has gone from fervent to lukewarm, or whose economic circumstances have left them without money to spare. The interviews and the data are the substance of an “enthusiasm gap” spurred by the distance between the promise of the campaign and the reality of governing, one that has begun to deepen Democratic gloom about this November’s election.

I’ve long contended that Democrats, much moreso that Republicans, are willing to walk away from their own party if they don’t get what they wanted. And then they complain about the conservative Supreme Court, how dominant Republicans are in Congress, and claim the news media is complacent and part to blame.

“Where’s the change I can believe in?” asked Lisa Pike, a 55-year-old from Williamsburg, Va. with a small medical transcription business who gave $658 in 2008. She said she is not planning on contributing this time around. “I wish he was the socialist they accused him of being. I wish we had the tons of change that would justify the right freaking out. I wish him well — I don’t dislike him personally — but I’m disappointed that he’s not the change-agent I had hoped for.”

This is a valid viewpoint. But, again, if the GOP wins the White House and Congress in 2012 then there shouldn’t be any complaint if the party’s agenda and Supreme Court choices sail in. In short: Democrats seem less capable of keeping the long view in sight.

And Team Obama has (of course) an answer to this:

An Obama campaign spokeswoman, Katie Hogan, disputed BuzzFeed’s analysis with the statistics, noting that 98% of its donors have given less than the $200 threshold this year and that the campaign is ahead of its 2008 pace. But Obama is now operating with the technical advantages of a permanent campaign, including history’s largest email list, and the political advantages of incumbency, which traditionally draws business interests and favor-seekers to the candidate. Aides have long anticipated that muscle and technical prowess, combined with fear of a Republican takeover, will replace inspiration in keeping the campaign fundraising on track.

The spin goes on.

But not donations from many Democrats who gave in 2008.

  

16 Comments

  1. well, now that he has an actual record, it is much easier to determine whether or not he is worth your money. before he was just a dream…your dream, because he was a blank piece of paper you could imprint your needs onto.

    aahh, reality… it is just so …… real.

  2. I can understand why so many gave so much when he ran in 08.
    He brought to the table an administration that promised in part to close Gitmo, support union workers and card check and change policies to eliminate too-big-to-fail banks.

    He has failed to close Gitmo and expanded policies that liberals do not support with the increased use of drones to kill terrorist and endangered those close to them. He has become directly involved in “kill list” for drone attacks. He has given up his fight for card check and has done nothing to support union jobs with his blacking of Keystone pipeline. And banks that controlled around 45% of total assets in this country when he took office now control around 57% of all assets since smaller banks have been hurt by legislation that was meant to make big banks have less of a footprint.

    No wonder those on the left that believed his rhetoric to get elected are being turned off again by just another person who will say almost anything to get elected.

    We have two once again doing the promoses that will become lies. It is just who is the leeor of the liars this time.

  3. I thought I’d be in that group of donors that gave 4 years ago but won’t this year. I think I’ve changed my mind, based on a couple of good progressive decisions from the Obama camp as of late, as well as a stronger understanding of the awfulness of his opponent. Watching McCain get worse and worse was one of the things that made many progressives donate last time (we all thought at first that maybe McCain wouldn’t be so terrible as he was). Watch donors line up to give as Mitt Romney gets uglier and uglier.

  4. “Democrats seem less capable of keeping the long view in sight”

    Boy howdy on that observation. They’ll cut off their noses to spite their face 9 times out of ten. People are worried that Obama wasn’t basically able to change everything already. How long did it take FDR to turn things around? We almost went into a depression, we almost lost our banks, AGAIN, to crap thats happened before. We are facing the logical results of the deregulation and tax policies of the GOP, and these problems are really big. Even if you don’t have a bloc of Congress that has basically made it their mission in life to prevent anything from getting done. Anyone who supported Obama before and think Romney would make a better president should take a long hard look about what he is proposing and how we got to where we are today.

  5. RP, those are all excellent points and totally true. But they really don’t make a difference since Romney has no intention of doing any of those either. If Romney said he was going to put the regs back in place that put limits on what banks can gamble on and split them up from their too big to fail state, I would vote for him in a second. But like closing Gitmo, he isn’t going to do that any more than Obama is, so these issues are a wash. They do differ on tax policy, which I think is key, even though I think the “Buffet Rule” that Obama seems to have latched onto is a hamfisted idea that would be far more easily implemented by simply changing the personal income tax rates and Cap Gains.

  6. Slam, it is a rare day, I find myself agreeing with SM and you.
    You said: “I think the “Buffet Rule” that Obama seems to have latched onto is a hamfisted idea that would be far more easily implemented by simply changing the personal income tax rates and Cap Gains.”
    I would raise the dividend and cap gains rates to 18%. Obama can’t do that because he would violate his no taxes under 250K rule.
    The real tax increase buffet is not the Buffett kind but tax reform across the board. However, that, like Simpson-Bowles, is too painful for most politicians, and maybe for we the taxpayers.

  7. According to the Obama rebuttal, 98% of previous donors have given. Just not as much as they did previously.

    Under Romney we would see a return of the Bush foreign policy, a backslide on social issues, dwindling support for the homeless, the unemployed, those on welfare. More money and tax breaks for the wealthy, while the middle class continues to wait for the “trickle down” from the wealthy to create jobs.

    I support the use of drones (though I wish we didn’t have to use them at all, but when people attack us we need to protect and fight back), I supported Obama’s limited involvement in the various uprisings in Egypt, Libya, etc. (I think if those situations had arisen under a Bush administration, then we would be involved in more wars… and floundering like we did when he took as to Iraq).

    I don’t like Gitmo. I don’t like eating away of American liberties (wiretap, etc.) in the name of national security. I wish healthcare did more and I wish Obama was not tied so closely with the banks. He needs to be more “Main Street” and less “Wall Street”.

    So yes, Obama has my support. Romney leading us backwards is not an option.

  8. Everything Stockboy says and no donation this year. Even with an obdurate Congress, he should have adopted more Simpson-Bowles, more stimulus, and less Wall Street coddling – in rhetoric, if nothing else, even as Congress failed in it’s duty.

    He’ll get my vote and I’m still hoping for a complete turnaround 2nd term, but not as much as I would like to.

  9. Cap gains could be taxed just like regular income. Or rather it could be scaled progressively. If you make more than $1M on such income, you pay more than the 15% standard rate. I see no reason why we have progressive taxes for one type of income, and this flat tax on another kind of income. The whole idea of progressive taxation is to slow down the accumulation of wealth at the top to allow the economy to grow in lockstep. If we just make a secondary form of income category for the wealthy it seems we’ve really missed the point. If done right the folks that are making relatively small income could pay less than 15% they pay now. For instance, retirees.

  10. Slam, disagree, flat is better.

  11. “I’ve long contended that Democrats, much moreso that Republicans, are willing to walk away from their own party if they don’t get what they wanted. And then they complain about the conservative Supreme Court, how dominant Republicans are in Congress, and claim the news media is complacent and part to blame.” – Joe G.

    Spot on Joe. The electorate today just makes me shake my head. Sure, Obama didn’t turn out to be the crusading liberal many hoped for. Instead he is a pragmatist, a moderate – in other words, the sane alternative to the GOP/TP. That should be enough to motivate any voter who is capable of thinking independently and whose memory goes back at least to the year 2000.

  12. Ah, yes, Z, back to the future in 1998 when congress and Bill knocked out the old befuddled Glass-Steagall and “modernized” Wall Street.

    Longing for “those days of yesteryear, the Lone Ranger”. He would bring GS back to the past.

  13. It is my understanding that the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act had a veto-proof majority, so it wouldn’t have mattered if Clinton had vetoed it or not.

    Back in 2010, he admitted in an interview that he was wrong about listening to Rubin and Summers about derivatives, and he should have tried to regulate them.

    As always, hindsight is 20/20, although I am sure there were many dissenters who warned that repealing provisions of Glass-Steagall would have dire consequences as banks would once again be able to play Russian roulette with gobs of money.

    In 30 years when our refusal to regulate the banking industry again results in a massive economic collapse and depression, maybe the 3rd time will be the charm.

  14. I doubt it will take 30 years for the next crash. The financial sector is determined to make it so that they can pull it off again as easily as possible. Of course they know that they would never do anything that foolish again…until the next shiny F.I.T. (Financial Instrument Toy) comes along. Then they’ll know that it’s something that will reduce their risk to almost nothing, just like repackaging and splitting up mortgage loans or that wonderful strategy that was just recently so successful for J.P. Morgan.

  15. “flat is better.”

    How can you possibly say that? This is really simple math. Flat taxes accumulate wealth at the top very rapidly. Far faster than GDP growth will allow for similar growth in the other quintiles. When the imbalance hits a certainly level, the ability of the middle class to buy stuff evaporates, and the whole economic engine which is powered by a rampant middle class consumerism, comes to a screeching halt. This is bad for EVERYONE. The rich, the middle, the very poor. Controlling the distribution of wealth is necessary if you want to have the kind of economy that America is used to having. Taxing the rich and an “unfair” rate actually makes them more money in the long run. Look at the stats for income distribution, GDP growth, and tax rates over the 20th Century and the last decade. There is a very obvious correlation.

  16. Slam and DD, the reason we have a graduated tax system is fairly simple. The wealthier people can afford to pay more. We have a need, we have a means. It is not a question of “fairness”. Whether it is fair or not, people below the poverty level really can’t afford to pay $100,000 in taxes. That was tried for many, many centuries. People struggled just to find a way to get enough money to pay their taxes (collected by the very wealthy). Nobody really won; even the ones collecting did not see their standard of living improve all that much.

    The graduated tax portion of U.S. taxes was made because the wealthy have the capacity to pay more taxes. T. Roosevelt suggested that they gained more from government than the poor (and that may be quite true, as there are not roaming bands of marauder sacking villages and gated communities last I checked). Either way, if you want me and my group to pay $50,000 in taxes, you had better be ready to bury the six of us after we die of exposure and starvation.

    As for the lower capital gains tax (it was supposed to be long-term capital gains, and thus promote long-term investment–yeah, that worked out…NOT): the very concept that the uber-wealthy would not invest their extra money if they did not get a tax break was ludicrous from the outset.

    Finally–oh, and YES!!! There were people saying that we would face a financial crisis in 10 years when they let loose the financial corporations. Those people were right. Why is it that the congressman who fought like hell (from S.D. or N.D. iirc) is not the Secretary of the Treasury? He is a Democrat.

    Obama will not get my vote (unless Rocky Anderson is not on the ballot), but would if I did not find an alternate. It is not because he did not enact the things mentioned (GITMO, complete banking reform, etc.) but because he didn’t really even try to go up against the Republicans. He caved in to them almost every time.

    He wanted a ‘public option’ (something desperately needed), he gave that up–no Republicans voted for the plan anyways. Dodd/Frank was supposed to re-regulate the financial industry. In order to get enough votes, they left the regulation portion of the bill to others. Those others are now being lobbied to put in so many holes that Swiss Cheese looks smoothly solid.

    Obama wants to get Republicans to give bipartisan support for something, anything, so much that he has caved in to them. He used a Republican idea for the ACA and they STILL would not vote for it–not one, not even the so-called moderates! If that was their attitude then, what will it be now?

Submit a Comment