On June 19, Barack Obama opted out of public financing. I interpreted this as a sign that his coffers were overflowing, and that the combined efforts of NPR pledgers, English lit professors, union heavies and chastened ex-Hillary donors (b-b-b-but I wanted to be ambassador to Laos!) would power him to a massive fundraising haul. Smart conservative Patrick Ruffini disagreed:
The rumor now is that Obama has raised $30 million. A number like this not be a problem but for the fact that Obama opted out of the public financing system with a smug look on his face that suggested a gusher of cash in the offing. With him formally capturing the nomination in June, that doesn't seem to be happening. In fact, Obama's opting out is starting to look at best premature and at worst a complete strategic blunder… if it were really impressive, they wouldn't be holding it back.
And so on—there's more throat-clearing at the link. The hot topic at a conservative book party I went to last week (among the politicos, at least) was whether Obama's fundraising would dip below the $22 million he raised in May.
Because of your generosity and commitment, we're reporting to the press today that this campaign is in a very strong financial position. In the month of June, supporters like you helped raise $52 million.
Basically the right and the press got snowed: Obama held back the numbers to lower expectations and to shame McCain's total of $22 million. For some perspective, look at John Kerry's fundraising in 2004. In June, he raised $34 million. So Obama's raising two-thirds more than Kerry was, and McCain is raising one-third less. It's even darker for McCain when you realize he raised only $1 million more in June than he raised in May—Obama beat his May total by about 150 percent.
I bring this up not only to shame the complacent right that is ever expecting something to fly out of space and derail Obama, but to tramp some more dirt on the grave of the public financing system. Yesterday, Ben Smith reported the latest matching funds released by the FEC.
John Edwards: $4,057,452.60
Joe Biden: $1,135,035.94
Dennis Kucinich: $970,521.05
Chris Dodd: $514,173.62
Ralph Nader: $411,187.85
Duncan Hunter: $353,527.32
Those numbers for Hunter and Nader are comparable to what they actually raised in the primary season—more than Nader raised, I believe. Anyone want to argue that the FEC was reflecting the voice of the people? Anyone still want to argue for this system?