McCain, Obama enter final stretch with plenty of cash

For the better part of this campaign, Barack Obama has been raising serious amounts of cash from the beginning. Meanwhile, John McCain has stumbled up until recently to bring in the dollars necessary to compete on a national level. That all being said, it appears from financial statements released by both campaigns that they are on a nearly equal financial footing, all things considered.

The report from Yahoo News:

WASHINGTON – For all Barack Obama’s remarkable fundraising and sizable surplus, the Democratic presidential nominee entered the final two months of the presidential contest on virtually equal financial footing as Republican rival John McCain.

According to finance reports filed in the past two days with the Federal Election Commission, Obama and the Democratic National Committee ended August with $95 million in the bank. McCain and the Republican National Committee ended with about $94 million.

The parties are crucial players in the general election, coordinating some activities with the candidates while also spending independently to help them. Both sides also distributed money to state party committees to assist in the race.

Obama is bypassing the public financing system for presidential contests. That burdens him with the continuing need to raise money. McCain has decided to accept $84 million in public financing — and the spending limitations that go with it.

But both men have chosen distinct money paths that seem suited to their circumstances.

The Democratic National Committee has $17.7 million in the bank and Obama has $77.4 million. The Republicans present a mirror image. The Republican National Committee has $76 million in the bank and McCain has given it $18 million of his surplus.

And McCain now has $84 million for the next two months, without exerting any effort.

Obama has been the money leader of the presidential campaign. Overall, he has raised more than $450 million to McCain’s $210 million. Despite the advantage, Obama didn’t shake Hillary Rodham Clinton until the final primary in June, and his race with McCain remains practically a dead heat.

Insofar as money matters in this race, Obama can’t afford to stay even with McCain.

It appears to me, at least, that the Obama campaign was probably planning on a much wider advantage at this point in the race. Obama’s fund raising has been massive, however, since McCain is on a near equal footing with cash, they will both have to be choosing where to spend it very carefully.

Furthermore, McCain is set with the $84 million in public financing without having to lift a finger. No doubt Obama can match or exceed that number in fund raising but it means he has to devote time away from campaigning to raise money. It will be an interesting trade-off to watch.

I continued to hear bits and pieces about McCain attempting to open up a front in New York State since he is not polling completely out of competition in that state. Keep in mind New York went to John Kerry in 2004 by 31 points. Obama currently leads by 13 points on average right now, well within a safe zone but much closer than New York traditionally is for the Democratic candidate.

In a slight conclusion, I have a feeling this campaign will not come down to cash as originally predicted by the media way back when. The debates and policy differences will determine voter sentiment, not TV ads in my opinion. Besides, who actually trusts and/or believes a TV ad from either campaign?