It matters who has the fullest war chests in an election campaign — therefore Even Obama is tapping his voters for small amounts.

Barack writes an email. Michelle writes another one a few hours later. And then it’s Joe’s turn. They send invitations to dinner and all three want money. With a donation of at least three U.S. dollars, you get to participate in a raffle. The top prize: dinner with U.S. President Barack Obama. While there, the winner can talk to Obama about anything and everything. Michelle writes, “No one needs to be nervous. Just relax. Barack wants this dinner to be fun, and he really loves getting to know supporters like you.” What is at stake here is not just a friendly dinner party; it is a matter of the next U.S. presidency and who can collect the most money for it.

Trivial Amounts Welcome

The third financial quarter ended Sept. 30. On this target date, presidential candidates were required to declare the amount of money donated to their coffers from the party and supporting committees to the Federal Election Committee (FEC). From these figures we can see how full are a candidate's financial coffers — a good indicator for appraising the chances of a candidate.

Since the Obama campaign wants to do without contributions from lobbyists and firm-connected political action committees, even trifling amounts are more than welcome. That substantiates a central message of the campaign: Obama is independent from the interests of private companies. He is entirely committed to the interest of the citizens.

More than $55 Million

In the coming days, the FEC will publish the collected figures from all the candidates. Until now only estimates have been circulating. The website Politico writes that Obama will exceed his self-instated goal of $55 million for the third quarter. Already in the second quarter, Obama’s staff officially expected to raise up to $60 million. When the numbers were published in July, he had $85 million. This time it might be less. Mitt Romney, who hopes to run on the Republican ticket, will also not be able to come close to the $18.2 million that he posted in the second quarter. Estimates start out at $11 to $13 million.

The meager amounts from private persons are, above all, helpful for campaign advertising, but their part of the total amount is minor. In the second quarter, it came to a little more than a half a million dollars. As a reminder: Altogether it could amount to $85 million.

Mailing Lists as Campaign Advantage

Four years ago, Obama’s campaign was $750 million. The goal this time is to surpass that sum. His starting position is certainly different, but in no case is it better: The popularity ratings of the sitting president scarcely one year before the election are worse than ever before, the U.S. economy is not making headway, and the change promised in the 2008 campaign has not arrived. Obama’s most important election advantage in 2008, the promise of a new beginning, can no longer be used in his reelection campaign.

One remainder from the 2008 campaign could prove to be helpful: the mailing lists that Obama is now trying to use to mobilize the same supporters from the campaign four years ago. Anyone who signed on then can count on some mail in the coming months.