Obama Considers Spreading the Wealth

No, this is not an affirmation of the absurd attacks leveled by John McCain at Barack Obama regarding socialism.

Last month, Josh noted that Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill asked the Obama campaign to share some of its money to help aid the party's efforts to build a larger congressional majority, a request that the campaign denied -- at least at the time. Now, according to The Washington Post's Matthew Mosk, the Obama campaign is considering reversing course in the wake of the greatest grassroots fundraising month in the history of American politics and contributing to growing the Democratic ranks in Congress.

Democratic Sen. Barack Obama announced yesterday that he raised more than $150 million in September, obliterating previous fundraising records and giving him an enormous tactical advantage over Republican Sen. John McCain in the final weeks of the presidential campaign.

With tens of millions more to spend than McCain, Obama has gone on the offensive in dozens of states, including several once considered long shots, such as North Carolina, Virginia and Missouri. He is running three television ads to every one aired by McCain, and he has built a massive operation to reach voters on Election Day.

The campaign has raised so much money that it is considering passing some along to Democratic Party committees to try to help grow the party's majorities in Congress, according to a campaign source. [emphasis added]

To me this seems like a no-brainer. While it was not yet clear a month ago what the trajectory of the election would be, whether Obama would really have enough money to compete everywhere he wanted to or if he would have real limits to his resources, by now it seems apparent that the campaign can afford to allocate some of the large amounts of money contributed by its grassroots supporters towards electing more and better Democrats -- an effort that could result in tangible benefits (larger Democratic majorities, easing the flow of legislation through Congress) in the event of an Obama victory. Though Obama may be post-partisan in some regards, he is certainly a party-builder in others.

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McCain Campaign Hits Obama's Grassroots Donors

John McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis is holding a conference call at present to attack Barack Obama's grassroots contributors -- you and me, and a whole lot of others like us -- in the hopes of smearing Obama. Forget, of course, that McCain said on Fox News in 2004, "We Want Average Citizens To Contribute Small Amounts of Money... I'm For That.  I Think It's A Great Thing." In their relentless efforts to try to delegitimize a potential Obama win, the McCain campaign is willing to say anything.

If you're wondering about this effort, if you have some questions, why not call into the campaign conference call now? The number is 888-994-8791, with "McCain-Palin" as the code to get on the call. Given that the stated purpose of the call is "transparency", I'm sure they'd love to have you on the line.

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McCain Continues Effort to Delegitimize Election

I have noted already efforts by the Republicans to delegitimize this year's election, namely by trying to call into question the newly registered voters -- an effort, it seems, that is more aimed at framing the way the election is viewed after the fact than it is about changing voter sentiments ahead of the election. As a part of this broader argument, John McCain is now claiming that the record fundraising haul by Barack Obama raises questions of corruption.

John McCain said this morning that Barack Obama's record $150 million fundraising haul last month was the sort of take that could eventually cause corruption and would lead to another overhaul of the campaign finance system.

"What's going to happen, particularly if you've got an incumbent president, and we no longer stick to the finance -- the public financing, which was a result of the Watergate scandal?" McCain said on "Fox News Sunday." "So what's going to happen? The dam is broken. We're now going to see huge amounts of money coming into political campaigns, and we know history tells us that always leads to scandal."

Of course McCain doesn't mention the fact that this money came in chunks no greater than $2,300 -- or fifteen-ten-thousandths of a percent of what Obama raised in the month of September alone (to what extent, exactly, such a relatively small contribution could corrupt is left unsaid by McCain) -- and that the average contribution was just $86, which is far from the type of money that could corrupt a presidential candidate. Nevertheless, the smears and innuendo from McCain and his campaign persist.

But think, for a moment, what the money means. You have no doubt seen the argument, both in the run up to the general election and since, that the public financing program is broken. Although $85 million sounds like a good deal of money upon which to wage a campaign, realistically one can only maintain a serious on-air effort in fewer than a dozen states with such restricted financing. As a result, we have seen the same swing states receiving the bulk of advertisements in recent presidential elections, with many, if not most, voters not being spoken directly to by the candidates and their campaigns.

Obama has been able to begin to reverse the trend on the basis of his healthy grassroots fundraising numbers, advertising in about a dozen and a half states, as well as nationally. States like Indiana, North Carolina, Nebraska, North Dakota, Montana, Georgia, Colorado and Virginia -- states that have largely been ignored in years past -- have been added to the traditional battleground states this year as a direct result of the increased funding for the Obama campaign, allowing millions more voters to have a stronger say in the direction of the country.

And more broadly, how much money is too much money to be spent on the election? This graf from a New York Times article over the weekend jumped out at me, but not likely for the reason it was intended to.

Here in Philadelphia, the biggest media market in a critical state, both candidates showed a mix of positive and negative advertisements on Friday. The spots seemed to show up across the dial as regularly as the affable Geico gecko or the ambling ne'er-do-wells of FreeCreditReport.com.

Is it really a bad thing if messages about the direction of the country reach voters at the same rate as Geico ads or FreeCreditReport.com ads? This is the future of the country we're talking about, it's the future of the world. Shouldn't we be seeing at least as many ads relating to the election -- if not more -- as we are about efforts to bamboozle consumers into paying for extras along with the credit check they are entitled to once a year?

So in the end, what we have here are a bunch of half-truths and confusing conjectures by Republicans to make it seem like the Obama campaign is acting nefariously -- in terms of campaign finance, in terms of registering voters, in terms of alleged ties to Bill Ayers, etc. -- when it is simply not the case. Not exactly an honorable campaign tactic, if you ask me, and not even necessarily a campaign tactic as much as a post-campaign tactic to undercut a potential victory by Obama.

Update [2008-10-19 21:27:13 by Jonathan Singer]: Much more on this from Tom Mattzie.

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A Minnesotans thoughts on Michelle Bachmann

Michelle Bachmann has turned into quite a hot topic here in the netroots after her disgraceful performance on Hardball that that you can watch for yourself here.

It's hard to even begin on how horrifying that McCarthyesque, hateful interview was. But a lot of us Minnesotans have known about Michelle Bachmann and her hateful, extreme ways for years. Thankfully we've got a real shot at beating her this year, and you can help send her and her hateful brand of politics packing. Keep reading to find out how!

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Obama More than Doubling McCain and RNC on Ads

Chris Cillizza has the numbers, and they're shocking:

Reports obtained by The Fix detailing spending by the two campaigns as well as the Republican National Committee show that Obama dropped more than $32 million on television in 17 battleground states between Oct. 7 and Oct. 13 -- an increase of $12 million over what he spent between Sept. 30 and Oct. 6.

During that same time period, McCain spent approximately $10 million on ads in 14 states (the Arizona senator is not on television in Indiana, Michigan or Montana) while the RNC's independent expenditure effort disbursed $6 million more in eight states.

Jeanne Cummings, who has her own article on the disparities between the expenditures between the two campaigns for The Politico, passes on a choice quote from the top political ad-watcher in the country:

"Obama is spending $3.5 million a day on television ads," said Evan Tracey, CMAG's chief operating officer. "If he does that through Election Day, it will be more than McCain got from the government for his entire general election campaign."

So the Obama campaign is far outspending the McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee -- combined -- on advertisements, by a 2-to-1 margin in fact. But this spread actually underestimates the difference in the number of ads. Why? As Marc Ambinder explains, not only do the independent expenditures by the party committees figuratively offer less bang for the buck -- they can't be coordinated with the campaign, and are thus less effective -- they literally do as well.

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.

Moving beyond the overall numbers, which show the Obama campaign running at least twice as many ads as the McCain campaign and RNC put together, the individual differences are just as remarkable. First Read reports this morning that while the Obama and the Republicans are at near parity in advertisements in smaller markets ("like a Green Bay or a Youngstown"), in larger markets the gap between the two is immense. Just how immense. In the Washington, DC market, which is key to hitting Northern Virginia (as well as parts of West Virginia, presumably), according to the Cummings article cited above, the Obama campaign ran 1,342 television spots during the first three weeks of September compared to the eight spots the McCain campaign ran on broadcast networks in the media market during the same period. No, not 800 spots, eight.

These numbers are shocking and haven't been seen in in at least a generation. They're also thanks to we, in no small part, the small dollar base of the Democratic Party. Keep it up.

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