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Mitt Romney top fundraiser among 2012 GOP presidential candidates

Romney is leading both in the polls and fundraising efforts.

Romney santorum win iowa caucuses tieEnlarge
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney smiles as he arrives to speaks at his caucus night rally following republican caucuses in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 3, 2012. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s no surprise a presidential candidate needs millions of dollars to run a campaign, and the 2012 US election is no exception.

Although money alone is no guarantee for an election win, it certainly does help. Mitt Romney, the current lead in the six-man GOP presidential race, has raised a total of $56 million in campaign funds for 2011, according to The New York Times

Romney drew in $24 million in the fourth quarter of 2011 alone and is going into the new year with more than $19 million cash on hand. Romney’s fundraising figures dwarfs the other Republican presidential candidates in comparison.

Rivals Texas Rep. Ron Paul collected $13 million in the fourth quarter while former House speaker Newt Gingrich raised $9 million

The former Massachusetts governor won the New Hampshire primary with 39 percent of the votes with Paul at 23 percent and Huntsman coming in third at 17 percent.

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There is a different funding strategy Romney and his staff has taken this time around: he has made zero personal contributions into his own campaign – a clear shift from his 2008 strategy where he spent $40 million of his own into his bid.

Although Romney is beating his GOP rivals in bringing in campaign cash, Obama has been taking advantage of his early lead in campaign fundraising.

The Times reported in October that Obama has spent close to $87 million since the start of 2011 to finance his campaign efforts. 

But no amount of campaign fundraising can ignore this historical challenge: no US president in since Franklin Roosevelt has been re-elected with an unemployment rate higher than 7.2 percent and a struggling economy.

More from GlobalPost: President Barack Obama most admired man in 2011: poll 

Political analysts have said Romney could be a strong enough candidate to run against President Barack Obama who sits at a 47 percent approval rating.

Romney might have won New Hampshire, but he still faces South Carolina where he is expected to have a harder time among social conservatives and evangelicals.