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From the diaries - Todd

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Goal Thermometer

More in the extended entry.

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Obama v. McCain state-by-state fundraising numbers: the map might surprise you!

Over the last week I've been working on Who Contribued?, a site that uses the FEC financial data to track the geographic distribution of campaign contributions and expenditures and display it in a nice map. This includes numbers from the primaries, too.

The first thing that jumped out is how truly dominating Obama is when it comes to state-by-state contributions, but there's more interesting facts and trends I'll share below.

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More Spending Embarrassments for the McCain-Palin Team

The McCain campaign already finds itself in a money pinch, with perhaps as little as $1.1 million per day to spend between now and November 4. So what is the campaign spending on? The New York Times gives us a clue.

Who was the highest paid individual in Senator John McCain's presidential campaign during the first half of October as it headed down the homestretch?

Not Randy Scheunemann, Mr. McCain's chief foreign policy adviser; not Nicolle Wallace, his senior communications staff member. It was Amy Strozzi, who was identified by the Washington Post this week as Gov. Sarah Palin's traveling makeup artist, according to a new filing with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday night.

Ms. Strozzi, who was nominated for an Emmy award for her makeup work on the television show "So You Think You Can Dance?", was paid $22,800 for the first two weeks of October alone, according to the records. The campaign categorized Ms. Strozzi's payment as "PERSONNEL SVC/EQUIPMENT."

The payment on Oct. 10 made Ms. Strozzi the single highest-paid individual in the campaign for that two-week period. (There were more than two dozen companies that got larger payments than Ms. Strozzi). She easily beat out Mr. Scheunemann, who received $12,500 in the first half of October, and Ms. Wallace, who got $12,000.

The McCain campaign is strapped for cash, yet it, along with the Republican National Committee, is spending tens of thousands of dollars -- some from contributors, some from taxpayers -- on primping Sarah Palin. For a campaign already having difficulty with the "out of touch" meme, these exorbitant expenditures aren't likely to help McCain and Palin come off as real, genuine people to the American voter, regardless of the amount of times their campaign evokes "Joe the plumber."

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Obama Had $66 Million in the Bank as of October 15

I noted earlier in the evening that the McCain campaign had whittled down its cash reserves to just $24 million as of October 15, leaving it just over $1.2 million to spend per day, not a great deal of money. According to the latest campaign finance filings, the Obama campaign had significantly more money in the bank as of the same time. Here's the AP:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama reports raising $36 million for his campaign during the first two weeks of October.

Obama's fundraising pace showed a marked decline compared with the $150 million he raised in September. That's according to a financial report he filed with the Federal Election Commission late Thursday.

Obama spent more than $105 million from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15. At that pace he would more than double his record spending from September.

He had nearly $66 million in the bank at the end of the two-week period.

A few things to note. First, the Obama campaign had about 2.5 times more money in the bank as of a week ago than the McCain campaign. Though the combined efforts have closer to similar amounts of money when the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee are taken into account, the party committees are significantly more constrained than the candidate committees in spending on the presidential election. What's more, while the Obama campaign can, and no doubt has and will continue to, fundraise, the McCain campaign is stuck with the money it has (which by now may be as little as $12 million by now).

That all said, as you can all see, unless more money goes into the Obama campaign's coffers, it won't be able to spend at the roughly $7 million per day clip at which it was going earlier this month. This doesn't mean that the campaign is cash-strapped. Even without any more contributions, it would be able to spend about $3.5 million per day (a very hefty amount of money). Indeed, Al Gore and George W. Bush only had slightly more money -- $68 million -- to spend over the entire general election campaign in 2000 instead of the final three weeks.

Nevertheless, these numbers underscore a key point: Obama still needs our help. We're in a good place, but this race isn't over. We can't take anything for granted. We need to hit the pavement hard over the next 11 days and leave nothing on the line. And if we can, we should make a contribution to his campaign.

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McCain Campaign Down to Its Last $24 Million

Or maybe even half that.

McCain, who has accepted public financing for his campaign, is restricted in his spending. As of Oct. 15 he had more than $25 million in hand, but more than $1 million debts. The RNC, which has been helping his candidacy, had more than $59 million in the bank.

At McCain's spending rate of $1.5 million a day, the Arizona senator likely has only $12 million to spend in the next 11 days before the Nov. 4 election.

Republicans might point to the Republican National Committee's still relatively flush coffers as a way to argue that they will be able to effectively wage a campaign against the Obama campaign. But as I have noted before, and Marc Ambinder explains, RNC independent expenditure dollars just aren't worth as much, in a sense, as dollars spent by the actual campaigns.

But comparing IE spending and campaign spending is like comparing fermions and bosons. IE committee don't get the preferred rate; campaigns do. So the Obama campaign, by consolidating spending, gets more bang for its buck.

We do not yet have the fundraising and cash-on-hand numbers as of October 15 from the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee -- they are required to be in to the FEC by midnight -- but unless the spigot of grassroots support for the campaign got unexpectedly shut off at the beginning of the month, it's likely that the Democrats will have significantly more money than their Republican opponents to make this final sprint to election day. In short, this ain't a bad place for Obama to be 12 days out from November 4.

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