Forgotten amidst the gauzy memories of the “inspirational” and “transformative” Obama 2008 campaign is the raw political reality that he did something every common politician covets doing: He outspent his opponent.
McCain raised a respectable amount of money – more than George W. Bush did in 2004. But, even throwing in the federal matching funds he took and which Obama decided to forgo, McCain brought in less than half Obama’s more than $750 billion.
The result was what one would expect. Obama spent $100 million more on TV advertising than McCain. He swamped him in various battleground states. And he got his message, vacuous as it was, to voters, who turned into believers, and who turned into Obama voters.
This time will be different.
Obama, who has made a profession of castigating industries his doesn’t like and thumbing his nose at those who succeed under capitalism, is getting the appropriate response.
You may have noticed that Obama is panhandling for $3 donations. There’s a reason for that. His big money – from the elite who were enraptured with him despite his lefty credentials – is drying up.
Doctors, lawyers, Wall Street types – even his Hollywood fans – are refusing to give. Fundraising is behind where the Obama campaign expected it to be, and the president will have to scramble even to accumulate what he took in four years ago.
Mitt Romney’s campaign take is nowhere near Obama’s, but he has just become the presumptive nominee and now big cash will start to flow his way and to the Republican National Committee.
And he has a squad of Super-Pacs that weren’t around for McCain that are now launching a massive parallel effort. American Crossroads, the Karl Rove-led PAC that just started airing ads, expects to amass $200 million on its own for the campaign.
The PACs will be complemented by a huge amount of pro-Republican political spending by business groups. The Chamber of Commerce is planning its most aggressive drive ever, for example, possibly spending in excess of $50 million. Much of it will be dealt toward House and Senate races, but that will still help spread the GOP message and free up the RNC to focus on Romney.
Obama got a lot of love in 2008. But in politics, money buys love, and Romney will be purchasing.