DNC raises more than $16 million in September

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Democratic National Committee raised more than $16 million in September, a party official says, its best fundraising month in a congressional election cycle that has proved to be challenging for Democrats in every way but financially.

Party spokesman Brad Woodhouse said 80 percent of the money came from low-dollar donors online and through the mail, as opposed to big contributions at fundraising events.

"We've found that our supporters are now focused on the election, are responding to the president's message laying out the choice and understand the stakes," Woodhouse said. The elections are four weeks away.

President Barack Obama headlined four DNC fundraisers during the month, helping make it the highest midterm election haul since 2002 when Congress imposed new limits on party fundraising.

This election cycle, the DNC has consistently raised more money than its counterpart, the Republican National Committee, establishing an advantage that has infuriated Republican strategists and top party fundraisers. Many in the GOP blame RNC chairman Michael Steele for the anemic finances.

The RNC did not announce its September fundraising. The parties are not required to disclose their finances until Oct. 20.

Despite the Democrats' financial edge, Republicans have taken advantage of the weak economy and bubbling voter dissatisfaction to make inroads in a number of House and Senate races, with officials in both parties acknowledging that Republicans will see gains in the November elections.

Moreover, Republicans have made up for the weak party fundraising by establishing a network of outside organizations, many of them nonprofit groups, that do not face the same legal fundraising restraints as the party committees. Those groups have been outspending Democratic-leaning groups by at least a 6-to-1 margin.

Woodhouse said the new fundraising numbers suggest a growing enthusiasm among Democrats. That's an emerging argument from party strategists who are eager to counter polls that portray Republican voters as more energized and eager to vote in this election.

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