The big assumption about Mitt Romney’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination is that he has limitless pockets. After all, with the support of the Republican establishment and an immense fortune, it shouldn’t be too hard for him to generate funds through the contest. But according to a few (anonymous) Republican donors—and a source from within the Romney campaign—there’s growing worry that the former Massachusetts governor might run out of money from direct donations before the race is over. Buzzfeed’s Zeke Miller has the details:
[R]omney has proved unable to tap into the emotion-driven small-dollar contributions that helped power Barack Obama in 2008, and which fueled even his more Establishment rival, Hillary Clinton, this time four years ago when she too began to run out of big donors. The result: Republican fundraisers say that despite his success so far, they think Romney is fast approaching a wall, and that he will likely be forced to pay for the campaign out of his own deep pockets.
The “direct donations” part is key. As Miller points out, the campaign is fine as long as it can continue paying for staff; the Romney super PAC—Restore Our Future—can take care of the rest through massive donations from wealthy supporters.
With all of this said, Romney’s finances are less important than the overall attitude of Republican fundraisers. And if this scoop is any indication, the money men in the GOP are beginning to focus their attention elsewhere:
[T]he campaign remains dogged by the sense that donors are beginning to give up. Three Republicans who work closely with Romney’s bundlers said they had begun to shift their focus away from the presidential campaign entirely. […] “The view is: ‘I’m focusing on the senate races now and that’s it,’” said the New York Republican.”
This is something to pay attention to over the next eight months. A move to focus on congressional races could be a sign of confidence ("We are certain of a GOP victory and want to run up the score.") but it could also signal pessimism—"we’re going to lose the White House, so let’s try to salvage this with gains in Congress."