I think the influence of money in politics is often overstated – as I’ve written before, “if fundraising was all it took to run a successful campaign, we would have had President Perot, President Forbes, President Gramm…” and that was in the days of the Hillary Spot, when it was so obvious that Hillary Clinton’s financial advantages would make her the Democrats’ nominee 2008.
But Republicans have to see this news and feel a little reassured:
Here’s a scary thought for Democrats: It’s entirely possible that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee will outraise President Obama and the Democratic National Committee in the seven-month sprint to the general election.
In April, the first month in which Romney was untethered by concerns about the primary fight and in which he and the RNC linked up efforts, their combined haul was just north of $40 million — almost the exact amount the president and the DNC gathered in that time frame.
What’s abundantly clear is that Obama won’t have the massive fundraising gap over Romney that he enjoyed in the 2008 contest against Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
In that race, Obama raised an astonishing $771 million while McCain brought in $239 million — a total that included roughly $85 million in public financing funds for the general election. (Obama opted out of public financing.) For you non-math majors out there, that means Obama collected (and spent) three times as much money as McCain, a huge gap that almost certainly put the Democrat over the top in places such as Indiana and North Carolina and cushioned his margins in other swing states such as Florida and Ohio.
There is a zero percent chance that Romney will follow McCain’s lead and take public financing. And even though he has spent most of this election cycle running in a competitive and splintered GOP primary, Romney raised almost $100 million through April.
Again, lack of money wasn’t what cost McCain the election. But being outspent three-to-one certainly didn’t help.