POLITICS
09/16/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Fundraising Race Between Dems, GOP Nearly Tied Overall

Barack Obama's campaign and the Democratic National Committee began August with just over $94 million in the bank, putting them very close to the $96 million figure controlled by John McCain and the RNC at the start of the month.

The Democrats' near-parity with Republicans in the overall fundraising chase was in large part powered by a $51 million July for the Obama campaign, which reported 65,000 new donors in a Saturday statement to the press. More than 2 million people have now contributed to the campaign.

"The 65,000 new donors to the Obama campaign demonstrate just how strongly the American people are looking to fundamentally change business as usual in Washington," said David Plouffe, campaign manager of Obama for America.

Also on Saturday, the DNC announced that it outraised its GOP counterpart in July for the first month since October 2004, pulling in $27.7 million to the RNC's previously reported $26 million. The DNC began August with just over $28 million in the bank, which, combined with Obama's $65.8 million, has placed the two parties on near equal footing for the first time this year. The Democratic National Committee's fundraising had lagged behind that of the RNC all year, as many of the party's donors poured their funds into an extended, expensive primary battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Now, however, the trend appears to be reversing. By point of comparison, Republican committees had a $33.5 million advantage over Democratic ones at the beginning of July.

However, despite the current closeness of the two parties' respective bottom lines, Obama and McCain have distinctly different financial futures in front of them. John McCain is prepared to burn through his $21 million in remaining primary season cash before the Republican convention, since he cannot spend those funds in the general election. By agreeing to participate in the public financing system, the Arizona Republican will receive $84 million in government money after his convention. On Friday, McCain's campaign manager said they anticipated beginning September with over $100 million, including RNC funds.

Obama, by contrast, will have to keep his fundraising machine operating at full steam through the general election. However, if his recent pace of fundraising can hold, he should raise nearly $20 million more in September and October than McCain will have to use from the government. In addition, Obama will be able to use leftover cash from his primary campaign coffers. So while McCain is forced to burn through the rest of his current cash on hand by month's end -- including a $6 million OIympic ad buy -- one would expect to see the Illinois Democrat's campaign conserve some resources this month for use after Labor Day.