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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Money Game Going Forward

So Obama’s haul for August wasn’t $100 million, or even $80 million. I guess they aren’t actually printing money in Chicago.
Too bad.
But Obama did raise $66 million last month, shattering his own record of $55 million from back in February. The campaign added 500,000 new donors, took in contributions from 2.5 million contributors overall, and finished the month with $77 million cash on hand.
All of which is great, but might not be good enough.
Andrew Romano writes this for Newsweek:

The important statistic to look at is the combined amount of cash-on-hand for each candidate and his party (i.e, how much is actually available to spend on getting the nominee elected). Obama may rake in more than McCain, but he also spends more. Plus the RNC, which is handling its nominee’s ground game, vastly outraises the DNC. So here’s the math. In August, the McCain campaign managed to net a record $47 million for its coffers and another $22 million for the party, finishing the month with more than $100 million on-hand–money that it has now turned over to the Republican Party. It has also accepted $84.1 million in public financing from the federal government. Combined with the RNC’s $100 million projected haul over the next two months–all Republican cash now goes to the party, not the campaign–that should leave McCain with about $300 million to spend before Nov. 4. Except for the occasional RNC fundraiser, he barely has to lift a finger to get it. He can spend his time wooing voters instead.

Is this right?
Yes and no.
First, we shouldn’t assume that Obama’s fundraising is going to peak in August — far from it. In fact, we already have some indication of how this new month is going to look for the campaign. The day after Sarah Palin spoke at the Republican National Convention, the Obama camp announced that it had raised $10 million in 24 hours. Today we learned that the campaign raised $11 million at a posh fundraiser in California in the span of a couple of hours last night. A big chunk of that Hollywood money is going into the coffers of the DNC, but at this point, that hardly matters. Even for the Obama campaign $21 million dollars in just two days is astounding. And I’m absolutely positive that the September 26th debate in Oxford, Mississippi will be another jaw-dropping night for fundraising.
Second, part of the reason the McCain camp was able to take the federal money is because the campaign is choosing to outsource its ground operation to the Republican National Committee, which simply doesn’t plan to field a turnout effort as extensive as the one being built by the Obama camp. That choice reflects a definite difference in priorities between the two camps. Republicans are gambling that they can win this election from the top down: controlling news cycles, funding extensive TV advertising, and fielding a 48 hour GOTV program that has been successful in the past. The Obama campaign is waging everything on winning from the ground up: they’re training and organizing volunteers, registering hundreds of thousands of new voters, microtargeting persuadable demographics, and planning to win the election the same way the won the primary — by making sure all their voters show up at the polls. Even still, they’re spending as much as McCain on TV advertising in almost every battleground state (except Pennsylvania and Minnesota) and spending far more than McCain in some states like Virginia.
At this point, I still pretty good about betting money on Obama.

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