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.