United States President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama and his Democratic Party raised more than $68 million for this year's US elections in the final quarter of 2011, dwarfing the amount raised by his likely Republican opponent.

Of that total, more than $42 million was for Obama's reelection campaign and more than $24 million was for the Democratic National Committee, which helps to elect candidates for the Senate and House of Representatives.

Fundraising is crucial in US elections, with massive sums needed to finance campaigning across the country and pay for television advertising considered vital to building a candidate's message while combating their opponents.

The use of so-called super-PACS (political action committees), which have no cap on donations and can raise unlimited funds without having official ties to a candidate's political campaign has upped the stakes in 2012.

Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney, the current favorite to take on Obama in the November 6 presidential vote, raised $24 million during the last three months of 2011, his campaign team said on Wednesday.

Obama's opponents have claimed that the president is determined to raise $1 billion to fight this year's White House battle but his campaign manager Jim Messina, announcing the latest totals, denied this.

“The billion dollar number is completely untrue,” he said, while urging Democrat supporters to keep sending in donations.

“We have to build a neighborhood organization on the ground now, not in six months, and that takes your resources and your donations today.

“That means giving now and giving as much as you can between now and when Barack Obama wins in November.”

Messina described the $68 million raised in the last three months of 2011 as “a pretty good start,” and said the campaign now has 1.3 million donors, including 200,000 who gave for the first time ever during the last quarter.

He said 98 percent of donations were $250 or less, with an average donation of $55.

Obama faces a tough road to reelection in November 2012, with Republican candidates battering him over his handling of the economy.

Romney's campaign has already spent big this year, helping him win the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. Millions of dollars more will be used to finance airtime ahead of primaries in South Carolina, January 21, and in Florida 10 days later, which could seal his hold on the nomination.

“In South Carolina beginning on Monday we placed an ad buy for $2.3 million. And yesterday (Tuesday) we placed an ad buy in Florida for $3.4 million,” Brittany Gross, a spokeswoman for “Restore Our Future,” a Romney-aligned super-PAC, said after Romney's win in New Hampshire. - Sapa-AFP