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February 29, 2008
Dems Raise a Staggering $80 million in February
No figures out yet for the Republicans but that's because losers rarely release the results of their campaign fund raising until they have to.
The long and short of it is this: Obama raised at least $50 million in February while Hillary Clinton - whose campaign has been in free fall for most of the month - still managed to raise almost $35 million:
The unprecedented sum is sure to make it that much harder for Mr. Obama to agree to accept public financing for the general election and abide by the spending limits that come with it, something he indicated last year he would do if the Republican nominee also signed up for the campaign finance program. Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, has recently hammered Mr. Obama for wavering on the issue.If I were a Republican, I would be praying that Obama rejects federal funds. Why? First of all, it's a great issue to hit him with. But secondly, Bradley Smith, former FEC Commissioner had this to say about any advantage Obama might have in rejecting federal funding:
The tax subsidy for the general election, if the candidates take it, is about $85 million. It is a MUCH better deal for the general election than for the primary. That's why even Bush took the general election subsidy. The bottom line is, any funds raised for the general election cannot be spent until after the party convention.
Think about it - $85 million, to spend between the end of the GOP convention on September 4 and the election on November 4. That's a healthy $1.42 million per day. By comparison, through the end of 2007, Obama had been campaigning for over a year and spent about $85 million.
Additionally, because the subsidy comes with no strings attached, there are no fundraising costs. Typically, fundraising costs can eat up about 20% or more of the funds raised. In other words, to get $85 million to spend, you would have to raise more like $100 million. Obama's total amount raised in all of 2007 was just over $100 million. At this point, he is raising about $1 million a day, but is probably spending about that much, too. Let's suppose he wraps up the nomination after March 4 (a dubious proposition), he will still need to spend probably $300K a day through the summer. If the Democratic battle extends all the way to the convention, or even June, Obama will likely have to devote all his fundraising to the primary.
Now, you can start raising the general election money now, true, but Obama is still battling Hillary for the nomination, and he'll need to raise other money to stay on the airwaves between the time he might wrap up the nomination and the Democratic Convention ending on August 28.
And it gets tougher. Even subsidized candidates can raise money for a "GELAC" account, "General Election Legal and Accounting." This is privately raised but will typically total about $20 million. McCain can certainly raise that for the general. So McCain would have to match that $20-30 million McCain raises for his GELAC, plus the $100 million for campaign expenditures, just to match a subsidized McCain in the General Election.
In short, it is not at all clear that Obama can raise enough to battle for the Dem nomination AND fund his GELAC account AND raise still more for the general in an amount in excess of $100 million, which would be about what he would need to have parity in the general election with a subsidized McCain.
So the advantage is not as cut and dried as you might think which is why I'm sure Obama's people are looking very closely at the federal funding issue.
Any way you cut it though, $80 million between two candidates is a lot of money