President Obama’s approval rating may be on the decline, but that hasn’t diminished his star power as fundraiser-in-chief. In fact, demand for the president has grown in what will be a contentious mid-term election, with Republicans planning to sweep Congress.
Since January, the president has raked in more than $20 million for Democratic candidates and committees, and he continues to draw supporters who pay thousands of dollars to hear and see the president, and take a picture with him — for an additional cost, of course. How much exactly the president has raised is still unknown, since the administration is not required to report it yet.
From Florida to Washington, the president has held fundraisers across the country for candidates big and small. Last week, Obama raised $1 million for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in a glitzy, star-studded fundraiser in Los Angeles. Just days later, he raised another $700,000 for the Florida Democratic party.
Despite the cross-country jaunts, Obama’s fundraising prowess hasn’t yet matched that of his predecessor. More fundraising events leading up to the election will rake in millions more for Democratic candidates, and it remains to be seen whether Obama can reach the same threshold as President George W. Bush.
Even though his popularity declined in the later years of his administration, Bush still managed to pull in a hefty sum for Republican candidates while he was president. He helped raise $146 million for candidates for the 2008 election, even though his approval rating hovered below 30 percent for much of the final years of his presidency.
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In the 2005-2006 election cycle, Bush raised $166 million, and his fundraising spree reached a peak in 2002, when he raised about $200 million for the mid-term elections.
No matter how unpopular the president may be, at the end of day people still want to take a picture with him, experts say.
“A president of either party is still going to be the single best fundraiser that is out there. There’s always more interest in seeing or being seen with the president. They obviously command a much larger audience than any other surrogate a political party could hope for,” said Democratic strategist Bill Buck, who has served on various presidential campaigns.
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