Barack Obama may want to rethink his position on public financing after all. Not only did he lose most of the contests over the last three months of the primary, his fundraising numbers declined during the same period. In just-released figures, Obama had his weakest fundraising month of 2008 in May, outraising John McCain by only a million:
Democrat Barack Obama raised $22 million in May for his presidential campaign, his weakest fundraising month this year, and ended the month with $43 million cash on hand, the campaign reported Friday.
That puts him behind McCain, after spending $5 million more in May than he raised:
The May figures place Obama and McCain on nearly equal footing. McCain raised $21 million in May and reported $31.6 million cash on hand at month’s end.
But McCain also benefited from the Republican National Committee, which reported $53.5 million cash on hand to the Democratic national committee’s $4 million. The parties are already working with their respective presidential candidates to coordinate their campaigns.
I noted before than Obama’s fundraising peaked in February, when he raised an amazing $50 million. In March, he dropped to $40 million, and April $32 million. By the time May rolled around, he had to deal with his derogatory comments towards Midwestern voters, Jeremiah Wright, and the series of gaffes that had begun to plague him after the Pennsylvania debate in April.
Hillary Clinton’s money woes complicate this as well. She has over $20 million in debt, perhaps more than $30 million. Obama obviously cannot retire that debt himself, which means she has to spend her time holding fundraisers for herself and not for Obama. While she does that, attention will get diverted from Obama and potential funds that could go into his campaign will be lost to pay off Hillary’s debts instead.
John McCain, on the other hand, has steadily improved his fundraising since clinching the nomination. He has also worked efficiently, spending far less than he raises while managing to remain in the media spotlight. McCain learned his lesson last summer, and his coffers remain full. McCain has the advantage of not having to retire someone else’s debt before the convention, or having potential fundraisers for his campaign go to retiring other Republican debt.
The wheels have started coming off the Obama bandwagon. His supporters talked about having a $100 million June, but it looks like the Democrats have wrung most of the funds they could get in the primaries. Small wonder that the campaign waited until Friday night to release this information.