The Romney campaign is experiencing what some officials believe could be the beginning of a mass exodus of big money donors diverting their cash away from the Republican presidential hopeful and toward Republican candidates for the House and Senate races more likely to win in November, the FOX Business Network has learned.
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The trend isn’t at the acute stage, at least not yet, said one person with direct knowledge of the matter. This person, a major player in Romney’s New York fundraising circles, confirmed to FOX Business that a few New York donors have backed away from financial commitments to the Romney campaign and instead said they will spend their money to help the Republicans hold on to the House of Representatives, and pick up seats in the Senate.
But another person with direct knowledge of the matter says the trend, though nascent, is more geographically broad based, and reflects an increasing degree of anxiety both with what they believe is the tentative nature of the Romney campaign, and recent poll numbers that show President Obama with a lead, particularly in key battleground states, that some Republican contributors are starting to believe is insurmountable.
“This isn’t just a New York trend,” this person said. “It’s beginning to occur all over the place.”
A spokeswoman for the Romney campaign said “many donors like to also donate to other candidates in addition to the support they have already given Gov. Romney.”
Some of Romney’s New York donors, particularly from the financial industry, have been openly critical of the campaign’s approach, arguing that Romney should be spending more time forcefully attacking President Obama on the economy and his foreign policy, according to people with knowledge of the matter. They’ve also accused the campaign of muzzling his vice presidential running mate Paul Ryan on the campaign trail, something Ryan has personally denied when asked.
Romney has raised a little more than $279 million, compared to $432 million for President Obama, according to the latest numbers from the Center for Responsive Politics. But Republicans running for House seats have raised more than $446 million, compared to $335 million for Democrats. Republicans also have a fundraising lead in the Senate, $223 million to $204 million.
Viveca Novak, a spokeswoman for the center, said the recent trend of Republican donors funneling money to Senate and House races is “not possible to detect” based on current information that runs through September 21. The next filing date is October 20, when this trend might become more noticeable.
But a lot can happen over the next several weeks.
One bright spot is that at least so far, the big donors that are moving away from Romney have not diverted their cash to President Obama, in attempt to cozy up to the administration during its second term, according to people inside the campaign.
Moreover, the situation remains fluid; President Obama leads in many polls, but key Romney advisers believe the electorate is more fickle this year than back in 2008 given some of the failures of the Obama economic policy, including high unemployment that’s likely to persist through the election.
If Romney does well in Wednesday’s presidential debate and the polls tighten, Romney officials believe that could give them a boost in fundraising for the campaign’s home stretch.
“The debates will be very important,” said one person with knowledge of the matter. “If Romney does well that money could come back.”