Obama spends less in June

Saves resources
July 21, 2008 5:56:50 PM PDT
Barack Obama's army of small-dollar donors gave his presidential campaign its biggest boost in June, contributing more than $30 million in individual sums of $200 or less.Overall, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee hauled in $52 million for the month, reversing a three-month fundraising decline. He also had his lowest spending of the year, permitting him to build a $72 million end-of-month cash reserve.

"This is the highest amount raised in amounts of $200 or less in the history of presidential fundraising," said Michael Malbin, executive director of the Campaign Finance Institute, a nonpartisan organization that analyzes campaign money.

By comparison, Republican rival John McCain raised $21.5 million in June, with only a third coming from donors who gave in increments of $200 or less, according to the institute's analysis.

Obama's total includes $21 million in contributions from those whose aggregate donations to his campaign during the past 18 months have not exceeded $200. The campaign does not have to itemize those donations.

The boost in giving was a tangible result of clinching the Democratic presidential nomination on June 3.

That so much of his money came in small-dollar donations is noteworthy because it means those contributors are likely to give again - an important consideration for Obama, who has decided to forgo $84 million in public money to spend on the fall campaign.

"These are enthusiastic people who are likely, if anything, to become more enthusiastic as the general election campaign becomes more heated," Malbin said.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who suspended her quest for the White House on June 7, faced a starkly different financial picture.

She lent herself an additional $1 million in June to pay vendors, increasing her personal loan to the campaign to $13.2 million. She reported owing vendors $12 million. She raised $2.7 million from donors in June.

Obama reported spending $25.6 million in June, his lowest monthly operating costs of the year. McCain disbursed $27 million, including $1.2 million to a special accounting fund for the fall campaign.

Unlike McCain, who spent more than he raised in June, Obama accumulated cash during the month. While he ruled on the airwaves with ads during the primary season, he refused to match McCain's ad spending in June. McCain devoted $16 million to advertising to Obama's $5 million. Obama is now matching McCain's and the Republican Party's ad spending.

The different financial pictures reflect two distinct strategies by the campaigns. McCain plans to accept $84 million in public funds for the fall campaign, which prevents him from raising or spending any money above that sum.

In deciding to bypass the public finance system, Obama became the first major-party presidential candidate in three decades to do so in the general election. That means he needs to build up his cash reserves going into the fall, whereas McCain needs to deplete his.

Obama and McCain, meanwhile, are still busy raising money, often for joint victory funds set up with their respective parties.

McCain's fundraising is getting a significant boost from the fund set up with the Republican National Committee. Overall, the RNC, with the victory fund, raised nearly $26 million in June. The RNC had nearly $69 million cash on hand. Though McCain's spending is limited because he accepted public funds for the fall, the Republican Party can raise and spend as much as it wants to help him. Altogether, McCain and the RNC began July with $96 million in the bank.

In clinching the nomination, Obama also helped the Democratic National Committee raise money. The DNC and two victory funds it set up raised $24.2 million in June and had $20.4 million on hand.

Obama and the party had $92 million in the bank at the start of July.

Clinton's decision to lend herself $1 million on June 30 underscored her struggle raising money.

Obama has asked his donors to help her reduce her debt. A joint fundraising event in New York earlier this month brought in about half a million dollars for Obama and about half as much for Clinton, according to fundraisers. Clinton's biggest single debt was $5.3 million to her senior adviser and pollster Mark Penn, but aides said she intends to pay off smaller vendors first.

Meanwhile, Democratic committees that help House and Senate candidates raised more than their Republican counterparts, continuing to build a financial advantage. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee reported raising $10.8 million in June, with $46.2 million in the bank at month's end. The National Republican Senatorial committee raised $6 million, and had $24.6 million in the bank.

Democratic candidates for the House had an even greater edge.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $10 million, including nearly $4 million from current members of Congress. It reported $54.6 million in the bank at the end of June.