Even as Texas Gov. Rick Perry beat all of the other Republican presidential hopefuls in third-quarter fundraising, his filing with the Federal Election Commission reveals some problems that could hurt him later on.
Perry entered the race Aug. 13, and went on to raise $17.2 million in the remaining 49 days of the quarter. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney came in second, collecting $14.2 million over the quarter's 92 days. (You can see an interactive graphic with all the candidates' cash here.)
Perry also edged out Romney in cash on hand: $15.1 million to $14.7 million.
These fat numbers put Perry at the front of the GOP money race. But when we dissected Perry's FEC report, we found three hidden weaknesses.
First, Perry's fundraising list is top-heavy with big donors. He got 79 percent of his dollars from donors who gave the legal maximum, $2,500. He can't go back and solicit them again — although he can invite them to give $5,000 to Make Us Great Again, a super PAC that runs, officially independently, alongside his campaign committee.
Romney, who's known for his ties to Wall Street and other wealth centers, got a smaller 54 percent of his cash from maxed-out donors.
Second, Perry is weak at the other end of the spectrum, donors of $200 or less. They gave Perry just $698,820 — 4 percent of his total. Romney's small donors kicked in slightly less than $2 million, or 14 percent of Romney's total.
And third, Perry's fundraising isn't a national operation yet. Texas, where he's been governor for a decade, accounts for $9.7 million, or 57 percent of his fundraising. He raised as much as a million dollars in just one other state, California.
Again with the Romney comparison: California was Romney's biggest state, generating $1.6 million. But Romney, who built a national fundraising operation for the 2008 election, outraised Perry in 35 states and the District of Columbia, including most of the money centers. Perry outpaced him in Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania, but generally did best mainly in small states not known for their big donor bases.
Perry lately has focused on rescuing his plummeting poll numbers. The FEC report shows he has work to do on the fundraising front too.
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