McCain Nearly Outraises Obama in May

Hidden in a late Friday news dump was Barack Obama's relatively anemic May fundraising, which at $21.9 million was just a shade ahead of John McCain's $21.8 million.

This news is a little jarring given all the publicity this week about Barack Obama's opt-out and the prospect of him burying McCain fundraising-wise by 3-to-1 in the general election. On the one hand, the candidates are approaching parity. On the other, May was probably the low ebb for Barack Obama while McCain's fundraising operation is just hitting its stride.

The coded message from this week is that Obama's June is likely to be huge -- perhaps their biggest month yet -- with a gusher of high-dollar Hillary bundlers getting on board combined with a revival of Obama's Internet base, which peaked in February. There is no way the Obama campaign could have made the decision they did without supreme confidence they could in fact deliver. 

The attenuation of Obama's fundraising late in the primary season (and his subsquent pickup in June) should come as no surprise to anyone who pays attention to web analytics:

In February, we were talking about $50-$60 million months as far as the eye could see, fueled by the Internet. Since February, Obama's totals have gone down by about $10 million a month. What this tells us is that though the Internet can be a powerful source of campaign money, it's highly event-driven and difficult to plan for. People only tend to give at the absolute peak of their enthusiasm, which in this case was February. And they mostly ignore pleas for help in lull periods (like May, when Obama had effectively wrapped up the nomination) -- even if they've given before.

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I was just reading about this on Politico

Wouldn't it be ironic if his JPF (Just Plain Folks) supporters decided to put their money into their gas tanks instead of continuing to pour their hard-earned dollars into the bottomless coffers of his campaign?  I mean, with his inevitability and all, why bother?  Oh, that would just be poetic justice.

It's also possible that "peak fundraising" is like "peak oil"

Perhaps there really is a finite amount of money for a political campaign and what Obama,Inc. did was "drill" furiously all spring, only to find now the fields are all prospected and there is lesser and lesser marginal return from their fundraising operation.

No matter how much arbor there is on the Left, most of them do not walk to work and still have to pay $4/gallon for gas. This has to limit their discretionary income, so the $100 internet contribution turns into $50 or gets put off for a month.

My theory is many of the old rules do not apply since the activity and attention level of these campaigns is at least 120 days ahead of prior schedules.  Having reached 1 million donors already, Obama, Inc. may find few untapped sources of cash left out there.

Here's My Thought

I'd been saying for a while that we could expect a major drop-off in his fundraising.  People have been crowing about his small donor base, and how he could keep tapping that.

But it isn't necessarily true.  When I was in law school, I gave GWB $300 online after he was the presumptive nominee but before he was the actual nominee.  But it would be foolish to assume that you could keep coming back to me again and again up to $4600. Or even up to $400.  On my law student budget, that was it.  Add in the "shiny new toy" aspect to Obamania back in February, and I think you can see why his fundraising has dropped off.

Maybe the Clinton folk will come up big for him.  I don't know.  But this really might be the first big strategic gaffe for the Obama campaign.

His Problem will be the Clinton Bundlers

This is where Hillary will extract her Pound of Flesh. If they have any influence at all, they will extract a price.

Barack is, on the surface, extremely smart to go private. They simply need to be honest about their reasons for doing so. However, it's all event driven. Going back to the same well time after time can be a major strategic miscalculation.

I think he will need those Big Bundlers. Big Time.  

Yup - especially since he'll get spanked in the bank account

by the Leftistas for going back on his promise to filibuster the immunity clause in the FISA bill.

No he won't. Not at all.

 Leftists will bitch and moan about FISA for a few days. Intellectual car battery thieves like Glenn Greenwald will carp and threaten. However, at no time will the Left liberal Democrats seriously consider either staying home or bolting for McCain as a "Protest Vote".

For the Leftist, the object of the exercise is Lenin's maxim: "Who Rules over Whom". 

The notion that people like Greenwald, the Kos crowd, etc., would let a thing like principle get in the way of the pursuit of power is laughable. Modern liberals are practitioners of situational ethics. These people would vote for Himmler if he were running on the Democratic line. 

Maybe Republicans Will Start Giving "Bush Money"

The potential for McCain to raise a lot of money is out there, just look at how well Bush did in 2000 and 2004.  Republicans can outraise the Obama machine, they're just not as excited about their candidate. 

If McCain starts attacking Obama from the Right, on issues like oil drilling, taxes, spending, national security etc, I could see a lot of the reluctant Bush donors getting off their duff and start writing checks.

I also think Obama's donor base is finite.  Graduate students can't write $300 checks forever.  I'm guessing these donors give one small donation, and then don't plan on giving anymore.  Obama spent most of this money during his bruising primary.  The conservative base of fundraising, however, has been largely untapped.

How great would it be if in the end, Obama NEEDED the federal funding to sustain his election?

Let's be clear: Pioneers admire Competent Campaigns

We have yet to see a hint of competence from "Team Maverick".

Anyone seen any sign of a massive voter registration drive? Any attention to a 72 Hour Plan?

Don't even think the Pioneers will waste their money on this guy if his campaign doesn't start showing some fight and some shrewd moxie. So far, Obama's waging a much better ground and air campaign.

That may be bad news. But that's just the news. Period. 

There may be something to the fact that Obama has blown through his money, sort of Clinton-like, while JMC knows how to live off the land. But now we're in the Big Leagues. You're expected to raise big dollars and use them effectively to gain ground. 

McCain Does Need A Better "Machine"

If McCain's campaign were being run by the same organization that ran Bush's in 2004, I think McCain would destroy Obama.  McCain is a much stronger candidate then Bush ever was, but Bush had such an amazing political machine.  Let's be honest, Bush was a lousy candidate, but his "machine" made up for it.   If you could combine the strongest attributes , McCain the candidate, with Bush's political organization, you would really have a formidable package.

I didn't care for Mitt Romney, but I knew people who worked for his campaign, and his operation was a well-oiled machine.  McCain's campaign seems unfocused and scattered.

I do worry this election could be lost simply because McCain's organization is not ready for prime time.




Agreed. Mac showed much more message discipline in the primaries

Given the environment we are in, it is just not going to work to run a 50 state campaign and try and address every check mark on every issue box.

Mac ought to distill this down into running on experience on foreign policy, and running against Washington pretty much from the right where his record allows it. And maximise his personal appearances in secondary and tertiary markets in the handful of states that matter.