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The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Can McCain Compete Financially?

Camilo Wood
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Jun 05, 2008

An interesting story in The Politico focuses on campaign money. Sen. Barack Obama’s fund-raising juggernaut has far out-performed Sen. John McCain’s lackluster operation, which is proving to be a major concern for Republicans:

A review of campaign finance data offers not one ounce of good news and barely any hope for the McCain campaign’s ability to compete with Obama’s fund-raising prowess.

To make matters worse, Obama’s campaign, which raised $272 million through April for the primary, now is reaching out to Clinton’s fund-raisers, who raised another $200 million through April, in an effort to unite forces and bury the historically deep-pocketed Republicans.

Take a look at some of the numbers:

• If each of Obama’s donors gave him a modest $250, he’d have $375 million to spend during the two-month general election sprint. That’s $186 million a month; $47 million a week.

• During the same September to Nov. 4 period, McCain will have about $85 million to spend since he has decided to take taxpayer money to help finance his campaign activities.

• The Republican National Committee, which is charged with closing the gap between McCain and Obama, has $40 million in cash. Obama raised almost as much — $31 million – from just his small donors in the month of February. His total for the month, $57 million, exceeded the RNC’s cash balance.

According to Fox News, McCain raised a personal record of $22 million in May. Obama’s May totals aren’t out yet, but McCain’s record pales in comparison to Obama’s personal record, the aforementioned February total of $57 million. Now that Obama has essentially wrapped up the Democratic nomination, he has begun to reach out to Clinton donors. Together, the two Democratic candidates raised more than $56 million in April, according to Opensecrets.org.

As the Politico story notes, McCain isn’t a great fund-raiser to begin with, and his inability to excite the Republican base has exacerbated his fund-raising difficulties.

“What’s been striking about the McCain money is that there hasn’t been any big surge,” says Anthony Corrado, an expert on campaign finance. “There are no big spikes; there is slow growth.”

So will McCain be able to pick up the pace and have any chance of competing, financially, with Obama? Probably not. But he may not be totally out of the game. as another Politico story hints. True, McCain still has a rocky relationship with many of his congressional colleagues, due to the senator’s posturing as a cranky independent voice within the GOP and his desire to publicly distance himself from an unpopular Republican president. But he may be able to court popular allies and convince them to come out on the stump, and more important, persuade their supporters to open their wallets.

On the Senate side, McCain already enjoys closer personal relationships with some of his Republican colleagues. GOP insiders expect Sens. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) and Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) — both of whom have strong political networks in their home states — to join McCain surrogates, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), on the trail in support of the presidential candidate in the fall.

Also, there is still time for conservatives to accept reality and coalesce around the likely Republican nominee. As a former GOP activist once told me, you can never discount the GOP’s fund-raising machine — because it always has the uncanny ability to raise $20 million overnight with a few well-placed phone calls.

Camilo Wood | Every day, to make a conscious decision to do something, say something, or act in a way that will improve my work experience. I assist organisations in disrupting the status quo of transition. I teach them how to turn their community from enduring change to evolving through change using a realistic and repeatable structure.


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