WASHINGTON President Barack Obama raised a record-shattering $86 million for his re-election campaign from April to June, exceeding a $60 million quarterly target and easily eclipsing all Republican challengers.
Small donations drove that massive cash collection in the second quarter -- 98 percent of donations were $250 or less, with an average donation of around $69, campaign manager Jim Messina said in a video to supporters on Wednesday.
Obama's campaign said it received donations from more than 552,000 people and said it had "more grass-roots support at this point in the process than any campaign in political history."
The figures underscore just how strong an incumbent Obama is despite persistent worries among voters about the U.S. economy and unemployment and criticism from other Democrats that he has shifted right over the last few years.
"They have smashed all records," said Chris Arterton, a political management professor at George Washington University. "I think it is quite dramatic."
Former President George W. Bush held the prior record, taking in about $78 million, when combined with the national party account, in the fourth quarter of 2003, according to the Campaign Finance Institute.
Despite the impressive number of small donations, Arterton said a greater share of total campaign cash will come from big donors. The campaign did not break down the amount raised by donations of $250 or less.
In 2008, one third of the $337 million Obama raised in the general election came from individual donors giving $200 or less. But 42 percent -- the biggest portion of individual givers to Obama's general election campaign -- were from those who gave $1,000 or more, according to the Campaign Finance Institute.
Looking to the third quarter, Messina said he expected donations to decline because people will be distracted by summer vacations, but he would not predict the total.
Nearly half of the donors had not given to the Obama campaign before, he said.
PARTY ACCOUNT, OUTSIDE SPENDING
Obama's incumbency gives him a huge benefit over his rivals -- a separate account at the Democratic National Committee.
Of the total raised for Obama in the second quarter, more than $47 million went to the "Obama for America" fund and more than $38 million went to the Democratic National Committee.
Still, even the $47 million figure towers over that collected by his Republican rivals.
Republican front-runner Mitt Romney raised $18.25 million from April to June, and most other Republican hopefuls for the White House raised between $4 million and $4.5 million in the quarter. The fast-rising Michele Bachmann will announce her fund-raising total this week.
Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer chided Obama for holding dozens of fund-raisers while the economy is sputtering and deficit negotiations between the White House and Congress remain at an impasse.
"Now if he could focus on reducing government spending," Spicer said on Twitter.
The 2012 campaign is expected to be the most pricey ever by a wide margin due to an explosion of outside spending groups, unleased by recent court decisions to spend unlimited amounts.
Republican-leaning outside spending groups, in many cases freed from donation limits and disclosure mandates, outspent Democratic-leaning groups during the 2010 elections, aiding the party in taking back control of the House of Representatives.
Obama will release thousands of pages of campaign finance records on Friday when they are officially due to federal election regulators, as will the Republican candidates.
(Additional reporting by By Eric Johnson in Chicago and Laura MacInnis in Washington; Editing by Vicki Allen and Todd Eastham)