At $1.7 billion, the 2008 election was the most expensive election on record. The winner, President Barack Obama, spent a record $740 million, more than both presidential candidates had spent combined in the 2004 election, according to FEC filings, and became the first major party candidate to entirely reject federal campaign funds for the general election. His rival, John McCain, spent just $227 million.
Throughout the general election season, Obama consistently outspent McCain, especially on messaging. By the end, the Obama campaign was spending nearly three times as much on broadcast advertising as the McCain campaign. As Bloomberg News reported in November, 2008, "Barack Obama obliterated every political fundraising and spending record in U.S. history."
So you can see why President Obama might be worried about being outspent in the upcoming election. Indeed, he's so worried that he sent me an email today with the subject line, "I will be outspent." Here's how it starts:
I will be the first president in modern history to be outspent in his re-election campaign, if things continue as they have so far.
I'm not just talking about the super PACs and anonymous outside groups—I'm talking about the Romney campaign itself.
The email warns that "We can be outspent and still win — but we can't be outspent 10 to 1 and still win." It does not note that Obama has already raised more than Romney, according to FEC filings collected by The New York Times. The reporting lags by a few months, but at the end of March, the Obama campaign had — wait for it — 10 times more cash on hand than Romney.
But forget all that. This isn't about fundraising. It's about dinner — but for a limited time only. "Every donation you make today automatically enters you to join Michelle and me for one of the last grassroots dinners of this campaign — today is your last chance to get your name in." Act now before it's too late!
As a fundraising email signed an Obama supporter who won a dinner reminded us yesterday, "Your chances of winning Dinner with Barack (and Michelle) are MUCH better than you might think." But as with the lottery, you can't win if you don't play.