Spring is here, the second financial quarter of 2011 is now underway, and politicians with an interest in the 2012 elections are beginning to poke their heads out of the thawing ground and stretch out new tendrils in search of money.
This includes the sitting president. President Obama is expected to officially start his re-election campaign this week, and campaign manager Jim Messina has asked a group of elite donors to raise $350,000 each this year, according to the Washington Post.
If each of the 450 top donors meets that challenge, that would mean an unprecedented $157 million by the end of 2011--and that's not counting contributions from smaller donors, which are also expected to be significant, The New York Times reported.
The top contenders for the Republican nomination, by comparison, plan to raise $55 million (Haley Barbour), $50 million (Mitt Romney), $30 million (Newt Gingrich), and $25 million (Tim Pawlenty) for the primaries, according to a report by the Associated Press.
"In 2012, the Republican candidates are going to be in the same position as they were in 2008: chasing Obama," political fundraising expert Anthony Corrado told USA Today. "He has the biggest base of donors [4 million] at the beginning of a re-election campaign of any president in history."
Obama has already brought in $1.5 million dollars at a fundraiser in New York City just last week, reported ABC News. Some speculate that he will be the first $1 billion presidential candidate. For his 2008 campaign Obama raised three-quarters of that amount, a grand total of $750 million.