Obama's Hollywood Fundraising Tanked in 2011

President Obama State of the Union - H 2012
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President Obama State of the Union - H 2012

Even before the SOPA debacle, the president saw a steep 57 percent decline in giving from 2007 among one of his most powerful constituencies.

The latest campaign fundraising totals show that while Hollywood strongly backs President Barack Obama, its support is neither as broad nor as deep as it was when he sought election in 2008.

According to an analysis of the latest contribution figures conducted by the Center for Responsive Politics at the request of The Hollywood Reporter, the president’s re-election campaign collected just under $1.2 million from the entertainment industry last year, which is less than half as much as the $2.8 million he raised during the same period in 2008.

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The center’s analysts point out that Obama -- who will be in Los Angeles for two events next week -- did not do any fundraising in the first quarter of last year, and that may partially explain the decline. Moreover, experienced Hollywood hands point to the fact that, at this point in 2008, Obama still was locked in a close contest for the nomination with Hillary Clinton, and their competition dramatically energized the entertainment industry Democrats.

"The level of energy around political giving has not built up to a fevered pitch because we are not in a primary season," said longtime Hollywood political activist and advisor Marge Tabankin. "There are some people who want to wait to give money when it's closer to the election."

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Andy Spahn, one of Obama's top industry bundlers, echoed Tabankin's analysis. However he also questioned of the accuracy of the center's numbers.

Whatever the case, the incumbent would have to raise at least $7.8 million more from Hollywood between now and the November general election to simply match what he raised from the entertainment industry during the last electoral cycle.

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While the lack of intramural competition may mean that some Hollywood Dems simply haven’t focused on the race yet, the president and the First Lady have personally appeared at a half dozen fundraisers here in the past year. Many of those events were billed as “Hollywood fund raisers” and, in fact, Obama’s reelection effort has collected $4.3 million in the greater Los Angeles area over the past year, making it one of the campaign’s top national fundraising sites.

As the latest figures show, though, only one in four of the dollars collected on behalf of the president’s reelection here has come so far from the entertainment industry.

That discrepancy is likely to increase pressure on Obama’s leading local fundraiser, DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg, whose Beverly Hills estate will be the site of a major event for the president in the spring.

Hollywood ranks 10th among the top industries giving to Obama’s reelection. The tech industry was the president’s sixth largest donor with $1.7 raised in 2011. In 2008, tech and Hollywood contributed roughly the same amount to Obama’s election campaign.