Barack Obama continues to smash fundraising records, bringing in $66 million in August. John McCain raised a record (for him) $47 million, aided by enthusiasm for Sarah Palin. But these numbers only tell part of the story.
Between party funds and campaign funds, the Republicans appear to have had about $200 million banked as of Sept. 1. The Democratic total as of that date appears to have been roughly half that.
The Obama campaign reported $77 million in cash on hand as of Sept. 1. The Democratic National Committee, the main conduit for party donations to be spent on the presidential race, hasn't yet reported its August numbers. But given that it has long lagged behind its Republican counterpart and only had $7.7 million on hand at the beginning of August, the Sept. 1 total is expected to be far less than what the Republicans have on hand. Democratic fund-raisers have said they expect the DNC to report August contributions of about $25 million.
Sen. Obama became the first presidential candidate to opt out of public financing and the spending limits that go with it, on the belief that he could raise more on his own. While his monthly totals have consistently surpassed Sen. McCain's, it looks likely that the two will have similar amounts to spend in the weeks leading up to the November election. Sen. McCain can't spend more than $85 million of the money he raises, but party committees can spend whatever they raise.
A big reason the Democrats haven't hit Stacy McCain's "panic button" is they assumed Obama would have a huge spending advantage going into the home stretch. McCain, unable to compete in private fundraising and subject to spending limits, would find himself outspent, out-organized, and outgunned, negating his gains from the last two months. It is now looking as if McCain and the Republicans might actually be in a relatively strong position in terms of money. If the Democrats haven't hit the panic button yet, they must be getting close.
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