I’m one of those who think money matters, but not as much as people believe, in a presidential race. At some point a candidate has “enough” to get out his message. Conversely, if you have a message or candidate the public isn’t buying, no amount of money will help (e.g. Mitt Romney, John Connally). And of course, if you are wasting the money, you bring in it does no good to collect more.
So where are we in the money race? Barack Obama took in $66 million in August and has $77M in cash on hand (COH). The DNC has about $17.5M COH. So that’s a total of $94.5M COH. Meanwhile McCain got $84M in campaign finance funds and the RNC has $110M. Bottom line: McCain’s side has about $100M COH more than Obama’s team. So if you think money matters a whole lot, then you think that number means a whole lot. (The team with the most money usually believes, not surprisingly, that it matters; until now the Democrats were convinced of their fundraising advantage but their faith that money is the key to success may now be tested.)
But let’s consider something else: Obama needs to keep raising money. Unlike McCain, who just got federal funds, Obama will need to keep replenishing his coffers. That means time and effort away from the campaign. That might mean something.
One thing is clear: it is looking like McCain’s decision to accept public financing (which happened to coincide with his public pledge) worked out much better for him than Obama’s decision to reject it ( which violated his public pledge).