I saw and duly dismissed as wishful thinking Karl’s and Patrick Ruffini’s posts last week speculating that St. Barack hadn’t released his June fundraising numbers yet because his money machine had finally broken down. After watching this, I wonder if they’re right. The obvious spin is that the sluggish contributions are simply an artifact of summer doldrums, but (per Ruffini) Kerry took in $30 million in June 2004, which would be slightly better than what Obama’s rumored to have pulled last month. You’d expect even a weak stretch for Team Barry to improve significantly on what the Dems were doing four years ago.

Or would you? Says Ruffini:

Obama’s fundraising surge came during and around primary elections with the outcome in doubt. Once it seemed he had it wrapped up, his online fundraising fell off dramatically. As we’ve seen, online fundraising can be hugely tempermental and event-driven. Hillary, who would normally raise $200,000 – $400,000 per email in slow periods, would see $10 million over a couple of days after winning a key primary like Pennylavania.

That actually seems to argue in favor of summer doldrums. Kerry’s donors were running hard out of the gate to stop Bush; Obama’s donors, having run hard to stop Hillary, might be momentarily unmotivated until the race with McCain wears on a bit and stays tight, whereupon they’ll panic and start pouring it on again. $100 million in June might be absurd, in other words, but $100 million in September and October might not be. Which probably explains Plouffe’s video here: Whether it’s genuinely time to panic or not, he wants them to think that it is. Especially before another month of lackluster fundraising (by Obama’s standards) gives the media a new building block to construct an Obama “fizzle” narrative.

Exit question: Geraghty says if Obama actually did have a monster June, he wouldn’t be keeping it a secret. In any other month, maybe not — but with his foreign policy trip coming up, they might be waiting (and putting out bad info now to lower expectations) in order to give him a big buzzworthy send-off. We’ll know by this weekend. Click the image to watch.

Update: Let’s come at this from another direction. If you think Obama’s fundraising is gone for good instead of in a momentary lull, explain why. Certainly some of his support in the primary came from people who simply hate the Clintons and wanted them stopped without caring much who might win between Obama and McCain, but for every one of those donors that Obama’s lost, he’s probably picking up (or will eventually pick up) a former Hillary donor. It may also be that some of the nutroots and far left are disaffected with his tacking towards the right, but they’ll come back soon enough if the race stays close. And if it doesn’t stay close, with Obama bouncing out to a big lead — who cares about money then? The point is to win, not to raise $500 million.

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Tags: Barack Obama