Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Obama and Cash

Sen. Obama may be facing the specter of a 100 million dollar June. This is due to him finally securing the nomination and benefiting from a wave of Hillary Clinton supporters, Democrats that were on the fence waiting until there was a nominee before they donated to anyone, and the fact that individuals can give the $2,300 for the primary and another $2,300 for the general election.

Conversely, Sen. McCain has decided to forgo the majority of this process and accept the 85 million in federal funds. This poses a great dilemma for the Obama campaign. In a piece that deals with these issues, Bill Lambrecht writes:

Obama's campaign has not said whether he will follow up on an earlier assertion that it would "aggressively pursue" an agreement with McCain to take public financing, which would provide about $85 million for each candidate from September through the Nov. 4 election. Candidates who agree to accept the public money are then bound by spending limits, which have yet to be set. That would not prevent spending by the national committees and others. Obama spokesman Bill Burton said the campaign would decide "soon" on general election financing. He noted that the broad participation the Obama campaign has generated is a goal of campaign finance reform....Anthony Corrado, a fundraising expert and a professor at Colby College in Maine, said he expects Obama to have a significant fundraising advantage. But he added that McCain will still have plenty of money.

Corrado said each campaign likely will have about $50 million to $60 million for operating until the political conventions in late August and early September. Beyond the $85 million in public financing, McCain could raise $10 million to cover legal and accounting expenses, then spend another $19 million in coordination with the RNC. The Republican effort could total a respectable $250 million this fall, he said. For Obama, deciding to take the federal money also could limit his campaign's ability to control its message. Asking his supporters to direct their contributions to the national Democratic Party would complicate advertising and other facets of an Obama operation that so far has been tightly and frugally run. Corrado is among those who expect Obama to be a realist rather than a reformer. "The practical reality of wanting to win is going to trump any desire to abide by public funding for the sake of abiding by public funding," he said. Public finance advocates argue that while Obama's grass-roots fundraising has reduced the prevalence of big-money contributors, he could impede broader reform if he chooses to become the first presidential candidate in more than a generation to run solely on private contributions. Advocates like Craig Holman, a campaign finance expert for the nonprofit Public Citizen, say Obama could send a damaging message. "He's still raising money from donors who want favors from the Obama administration," Holman said, adding that self-described reformers should "not be the ones presiding over the selling of the White House this time around."

So, in essence, Obama can spend all the primary funds he wants to until the convention in August. Then, if he takes the public money, he could have used much of the funds he has raised now to help define McCain during the summer.

The problem is that the most money is needed at the end of the campaign, when the undecided 10% of the electorate are making up their minds. Obama would then be on even par with McCain when he could have, at minimum, a 2-1 currency advantage. However, he has said in the past that he would try to work with the Republican nominee to take the public funds. The reason for this is twofold, when you take people's money you owe them something, therefore, the reform and cleansing of the process should trump personal ambition. Furthermore, these remarks were made when it looked like we would likely have a Rudy-Hillary contest. He was not thinking that McCain would be the nominee and, in truth, call his bluff.

I think he should take the public funds. There is enough "soft" money that can go to outside advocacy groups and the Democratic party itself that could be used in some of the same ways Obama would have used it, sort of. One of the often overlooked aspects of Obama's campaign has been his ability to use his money on a solid ground game (ie local offices, flyer's, ect), and this could be effected. Then there is the issue of Obama's credibility and as importantly, his creditability, which is what so many of those 100,000,000 donors were drawn to in the first place. Besides, is it not completely absurd that a candidate can run a campaign on the issue of fixing the economy while having shattered all fund raising and spending records? Perhaps the message to take from that would be that people are all strapped for money because they gave it all to Obama.


In sum, it is very much my opinion that Obama should get as much money and spending in now, and then in the fall take the public funding.

And now for some Cash:


1 comment:

kreplech said...

that's it... i'm writing johnny in for president.