Obama may not have a fundraising advantage in 2012

President Barack Obama’s re-election operation said Thursday it raised more than $68 million over the last three months, putting the president on pace potentially to collect even more than the record-setting $750 million he did in 2008.

But no matter how well it raises money, Obama’s team may not be able replicate the fundraising advantage it had in 2008 over Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) because of “Super PAC’s.”

The Citizens United Supreme Court decision in 2010 helped lead to the creation of political groups funded largely by rich donors that aren’t allowed to officially coordinate with campaigns but can support them. With the new law, the money raised by the 200,000 new donors to Obama’s campaign announced yesterday can easily be matched by one or two super-rich GOP moneymen.

And the GOP primary suggests a few Republican donors will be ready and eager when it comes time to take on Obama. A Super PAC run by Romney backers called “Restore Our Future” pummeled former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with negative ads in Iowa, angering Gingrich but helping lead to his defeat in Iowa. Supporters of other GOP candidates, including Gingrich, are now readying their own Super PAC’s to take on Romney in South Carolina.

For Obama, all of these Super PAC’s, along with the massive Karl Rove-backed American Crossroads group, loom in the general election and are likely to spend tens of millions of dollars attacking the president.

Democrats are planning to have their Super PAC’s as well once the GOP selects a nominee. But Republicans are likely to make sure they aren’t facing a fundraising disadvantage next fall as they did in 2008.

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