Obama fundraising momentum continues

When it comes to raising cash, the President is streets ahead of his Republican rivals

Figures released yesterday show that Barack Obama raised $70m between July and September - $42m for his own re-election campaign and nearly $28m for the Democratic National Commmitee, which helps coordinate the election campaigns of the party's Congressional candidates.

Jim Messina, Obama's campaign manager, said that of the 600,000 people who donated so far, 98 per cent gave $250 or less and as many as 250,000 had never donated before. Messina also claims that the Obama campaign staff has grown by 50 per cent in the last three months and is now opening three new field offices every week. This suggests that, despite the President's poor poll ratings, he still commands a huge amount of support from middle-class Americans and grass-roots activists.

In contrast, since entering the race in August to become the GOP 2012 presidential candidate Texas Governor Rick Perry has only raised around $17m. According to The New York Times, Republican front-runner Mitt Romney had raised two or three million less than that. Provided no Democrats decide to stand against him, Obama has the added advantage of not having to go through a costly and time-consuming primary election process, meaning he will be free to refine his re-election strategy for a number of months yet.

James Maxwell is a Scottish political journalist. He is based between Scotland and London.

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What does François Bayrou's endorsement of Emmanuel Macron mean for the French presidential race?

The support of the perennial candidate for President will boost Macron's morale but won't transform his electoral standing. 

François Bayrou, the leader of the centrist Democratic Movement and a candidate for the French presidency in 2007 and 2012, has endorsed Emmanuel Macron’s bid for the presidency.

What does it mean for the presidential race?  Under the rules of the French electoral system, if no candidate secures more than half the vote in the first round, the top two go through to a run-off.

Since 2013, Marine Le Pen has consistently led in the first round before going down to defeat in the second, regardless of the identity of her opponents, according to the polls.

However, national crises – such as terror attacks or the recent riots following the brutal arrest of a 22-year-old black man, who was sodomised with a police baton – do result in a boost for Le Pen’s standing, as does the ongoing “Penelopegate” scandal about the finances of the centre-right candidate, François Fillon.

Macron performs the most strongly of any candidate in the second round but struggles to make it into the top two in the first. Having eked out a clear lead in second place ahead of Fillon in the wake of Penelopegate, Macron’s lead has fallen back in recent polls after he said that France’s rule in Algeria was a “crime against humanity”.

Although polls show that the lion’s share of Bayrou’s supporters flow to Macron without his presence in the race, with the rest going to Fillon and Le Pen, Macron’s standing has remained unchanged regardless of whether or not Bayrou is in the race or not. So as far as the electoral battlefield is concerned, Bayrou’s decision is not a gamechanger.

But the institutional support of the Democratic Movement will add to the ability of Macron’s new party, En Marche, to get its voters to the polls on election day, though the Democratic Movement has never won a vast number of deputies or regional elections. It will further add to the good news for Macron following a successful visit to London this week, and, his supporters will hope, will transform the mood music around his campaign.

But hopes that a similar pact between Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Party candidate, and Jean-Luc Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the Left Front’s candidate, look increasingly slim, after Mélenchon said that joining up with the Socialists would be like “hanging himself to a hearse”. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.