The Obama re-election effort raised $70 million last quarter. 98% of that was from donors giving less than $250, with an average donation of $56. If anything demonstrates the need for a primary challenge more than those numbers, I don’t know what it is.
Over in the Republican race, Perry raised $17 million and has $15 million on hand. Romney hasn’t released his numbers yet, but he’s likely to have raised less than Perry and end up with about the same amount of cash on hand. They’ll both blow it on primaries, as will the new front-runner, Herman Cain, who isn’t running a serious fundraising operation. Last quarter, he raised $2.5 million and loaned his campaign $5 million. His recent surge probably won’t net him anything like Perry or Romney numbers in a filing that covers a period where he was mainly considered an also-ran.
From the campaigns I’ve watched, it’s crystal clear that the best use of money by a campaign is when it spends from its own bank account. Special interests have their own agenda, they mainly focus on advertising (not GOTV and organizing), and the single-issue advocates sometimes hurt more than they help. (For example, does the kinder, gentler version of Mitt Romney who will emerge after the primaries really want a bunch of anti-gay, anti-immigrant ads run in his name?) All the Citizens United Koch money in the world won’t make up for Romney’s need to spend time and effort raising money for the general election, and Obama is already $150 million ahead of Mitt.
Update: The “primary Obama” comment is sarcasm. Must be a little early for it.