For the first time in the campaign, Republican John McCain in May raised about the same amount of money, $22 million, as Democrat Barack Obama.
McCain also closed the gap in the amount of cash the two parties’ presumptive presidential nominees have in the bank at their respective disposals as they enter the first phase of the general election.
McCain reported having about $32 million in cash for primary-related expenses at the end of May.
Obama reported having $43 million in hand at the start of June — but about $10 million of that is dedicated to the general election.
Obama’s fundraising in May marked a sharp dropoff after months of record-breaking donations. Even in difficult times, such as the key loss he suffered in Pennsylvania in April, Obama brought in a steady flow of cash that usually topped $30 million a month.
The surprising cash parity between McCain and Obama means the candidates begin the general campaign more evenly matched than many experts expected, although things could change swiftly given Obama’s ability to raise money through small online contributions.
According to Obama’s campaign, the drop in donations was caused in part by a shift in focus from bringing in big money to homing in on the delegates needed to clinch his party’s nomination.
At the same time, he was forced to burn through his cash reserve in the final round of primaries, which were hotly contested by a significantly underfunded Hillary Rodham Clinton.
That last bit is courtesy of Operation Chaos – and the report goes on to note that in May, Obama spent $27 million to McCain’s $12 million and that, in and of itself, justified the Chaos effort. The conventional wisdom is that Obama will just gear right back up and raise whatever amount he wants or needs. And, so far, Obama has been a fundraising phenomena…but I do wonder just how much more he can garner? If the well of Democratic money really bottomless, or will the half billion spent on the primaries have drained the collective bank account? Time will tell – but we can at least be sure that Obama won’t just be able to spend his way into the White House; McCain will be able to put up a fight which will force Obama to climb out of his shell and actually confront the voters, and that is the place where we can crush him. Obama as a version of the “un-named Democrat” is unbeatable…Obama as a further left version of McGovern is very, very beatable.
It will also be interesting to see which campaign paradigm works – Obama’s is a top-down, massively funded drive, while McCain’s is a decentralised lean and mean campaign. I’m beginning to believe that McCain might really be on to something here, and that Obama will just be an over-funded dinosaur trying to act like the latest sports car.