Perhaps it was part of Mitt Romney’s coping strategy, or perhaps the beginning of his lengthy retort to an unfavorable decision. Within 30 minutes of the Supreme Court ruling to uphold much of President Obama’s health-care law, the Romney campaign announced it had raised more than $100,000. Some 45 minutes after that, the total had tripled. By early afternoon, it had surpassed $1 million.
Conventional wisdom leading up to the court’s decision had predicted the effects along partisan terms. A loss for Obama would energize Democrats. A loss for conservatives would drive Republicans to the polls in November. But with the ruling now released, the more accurate way to gauge its impact might be in dollars.
Fundraising has been a flashpoint throughout the 2012 campaign. Obama has been attacked for attending almost 150 fundraisers during the past year, many involving out-of-state travel and glitzy dinners. Then, earlier this month, Romney announced he had brought in $76.8 million in May, outraising the president and the Democratic National Committee by more than $15 million.
After the court’s ruling, Romney tried to ignite conservative anger. “This is a time of choice for the American people,” Romney said, speaking at Washington hotel just blocks from the Supreme Court. “Our issue is clear: if we want to get rid of Obamacare, we’re going to have to replace President Obama.” On his website, a somber photo of Romney appeared with a bold caption saying simply “Obamacare Upheld: Elections Have Consequences.”
The Obama campaign declined to release mid-morning fundraising totals. “We do not give out specifics on fundraising except at filing time,” Katie Hogan, a campaign spokesperson, told the Daily Beast. But earlier in the morning, campaign manager Jim Messina tried to set the stage for more donations. “No matter what [the court decides], today is an important day to have Barack Obama's back,” he wrote to supporters. “If you’re with him, donate now.”
After the ruling was released, Obama himself admitted the legal victory could have unpredictable consequences in November. “I think it’s clear that I didn’t do this because it was good politics,” he said from the East Room of the White House.
The real financial impact of the health-care ruling isn’t likely to materialize instantly, says a conservative strategist. He predicts both liberals and conservatives will be goaded into giving as the details of the ruling percolate outside of the Beltway and into American households.
Until then, both campaigns have focused on other areas and issues on which to fundraise. Obama is thought to have brought in $10 million from a recent two-day trip through four states to talk about immigration, the economy, and various social issues. The Daily’s Dan Hirschhorn reported that both candidates are tapping American donors overseas: Obama surrogates have held fundraisers in Geneva, Zurich, and London. Romney’s sons appeared at a fundraiser in May in Hong Kong and are reportedly exploring the possibility of an event this summer in Israel.
Meanwhile, after the health-care decision, both campaigns are focused on the big news to come next week, when fundraising totals for June are released. In an era of constant polling and who’s-up-who’s-down reporting, numbers on a balance sheet may be the most reliable way to game the race.