Donations to President Obama's re-election campaign from voters in the most economically distressed areas are up, according to a new analysis, even as the average-size donation is down and Republicans also fare well in regions that haven't typically given record amounts.
According to an Associated Press analysis, Obama's fundraising in the second and third quarters of this year from areas with typically high unemployment are up from this time over the 2007 fundraising cycles, when candidate Barack Obama raised $81 million between April 1 and Sept. 30 as the country was barreling into a recession.
While Obama reported this week his campaign and the Democratic Party raised a combined $70 million for his re-election bid this quarter -- more than the $21 million raised by Obama's campaign in the third quarter of 2007 -- similar fundraising totals for the GOP field point to growing support for candidates promising to change the country's direction.
The new numbers suggest the nation's 9.1 percent unemployment rate doesn't automatically hurt the president, even as Republicans trying to make the jobless numbers a central issue in his re-election.
Republican contenders' campaigns raised a total of roughly $52 million in the third quarter, with Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney taking the lead in drawing support from across the country.
Republican candidates have missed few chances in recent weeks to point fingers at Obama and his jobs record.
"Right now, America's in crisis," said Romney at an Oct. 11 Republican debate devoted exclusively to the economy. "You want to have someone who's smart, who has experience, who knows how the financial services sector works, who knows how to protect American jobs -- and I do. I've done it."
Among Obama's supporters, however, there has been an uptick in donations from both Democratic- and Republican-leaning counties, even as more than one in 10 people are out of work in those places.
In the Detroit area, where unemployment has exceeded 14 percent, supporters wrote hundreds of more checks -- albeit in smaller amounts when adjusting for inflation -- to Obama's campaign than the same period in 2007.
The AP's review drew upon unemployment figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau estimates, excluding donations from interest groups. Although campaign finance reports don't capture donors who gave less than $200 per election cycle, the donations reflect in part the attitudes among supports who give in the $200 to $2,500 range, making up nearly 40 percent of Obama's fundraising this period.
"I believe in the ideas that he has for the country," said donor Barbara Weeda, a 70-year-old retiree from Joshua Tree, Calif., home to San Bernardino county and its 13 percent jobless rate.
"How else is he going to get elected than to just dig in and help as much as you can?" she said, saddened at what she sees as a lack of cooperation in Washington negotiating a jobs bill.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in an email to supporters this week that more than 600,000 people donated to the campaign since July, more than the previous three-month cycle.
In a video to supporters released Saturday, Obama said the campaign was close to 1 million individual donors for the 2012 campaign.
"That's a million people taking ownership of this campaign $5 and $10 at a time. Each one of those people has a story about why they gave," he said, noting that he's making personal phone calls to random donors to thank them for their support.
The AP's analysis also doesn't count big-money bundlers, the people who raise cash on behalf of a candidate and turn it in as large increments. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, 244 bundlers are raising at least $34,950,000 for Obama's re-election efforts. In all, the president has raised $96 million so far this election cycle.
But the AP analysis found not only a broadening of support for Obama -- he received cash for the first time from parts of the Plains, the Rockies and the Midwest -- but also a wide appeal for top GOP contenders Romney and Perry.
Romney, the Republican candidate who has raised the most so far, has grabbed $32 million in cash. Perry raised nearly $17 million in under eight weeks.
Campaign finance reports released Friday and Saturday revealed the first complete picture of the presidential field, showing a haves and have-nots among the Republican candidates. While Romney and Perry brought in more than $30 million in combined contributions this quarter; other candidates raised remarkably less, and some were mired in debt.
Still, the campaign figures didn't capture the tens of millions raised by new, outside groups known as super political action committees, which can collect unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. Obama and leading GOP candidates all have super PACs working in their favor, not counting independently operating interest groups that are unlimited in the amount they can raise.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.