Friday, April 04, 2008

Obama Cash v. Clinton Cache

The Washington Post has a sort of "horse race" story about the clash between Obama's fundraising machine and Hillary Clinton's struggles to remain in the race:
Obama's immense cash flow -- he has raised more than $240 million to Clinton's $175 million -- allows him to compete as aggressively in the final primary contests as he did in the early days of the race. He is vastly outspending Clinton in Pennsylvania, with $3 million in television and radio ads, including a Spanish-language TV ad airing in the Philadelphia area, compared with an estimated $500,000 that Clinton is spending in the state, which will hold its primary on April 22.

In North Carolina, which will vote on May 6, the Obama campaign has opened 16 offices, including ones in smaller locales such as Hickory, Elizabeth City and Boone. Obama is spending $800,000 on the airwaves, and his team is making a strong push to register voters, with 22 training and local outreach sessions scheduled for yesterday alone.

In Indiana, which will also hold its primary on May 6, Obama has spent $1 million on television ads that have been airing for more than a week, and the campaign opened its 17th office there yesterday. Clinton has 12 offices in the state.

The Clinton team has not run a television ad in Indiana; it began running its first ad in North Carolina yesterday.

Obama's heavy investment in field offices, phone banks and other or ganizational efforts probably is where his financial edge will be most significant, said Michael Feldman, a former adviser to Al Gore who says he is neutral in the Democratic contest.

"I bet if you scanned the number of campaign field offices they have, in some harder-to-reach places, you'd see that every voter is being pursued vigorously," he said. "They've been able to put a lot of effort into chasing these voters."

Obama's ability to capitalize on a sustained wave of online support has enabled him to spend almost all of his time campaigning. Clinton has attended more than a dozen fundraisers since Jan. 1, and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, has appeared at more than 40, while Obama and his wife have attended fewer than 10 during that time.
Obama has problems, but raising money is not one of them.

I have said repeatedly that that Obama fundraising operation is something that will be studied and emulated in the future. But his reliance on small donors is what is making his fundraising prowess so amazing. His donors are not fatigued and are not tapped out because he raises money in such small amounts, but from so many people, that he makes the reliance on the big dollar donors of Hillary Clinton seem so cliched. Last month, for every dollar Clinton raised, Obama raised two and not from $2,300 donors.

My gut feeling is that while Hillary Clinton is leading in the polls in Pennsylvania, her victory-assuming she wins--will be much smaller than the current 6.6% spread that Clinton has over Obama. Furthermore, Obama is clearly closing the gap and in polls with larger sample sizes (and therefore a smaller margin of error), Obama is doing pretty well. His ground operation is going to cut into Clinton's cache and he could end up winning in PA.

If he wins in Pennsylvania, he will be in a commanding position to push Clinton out of the race and his supporters will be doing just that. Additionally, it will have proven that Obama can take a few punches and come back. It still would leave the Democratic party with perhaps the worst possible candidate in terms of experience, but he will have done something that a year ago, everyone assumed was impossible,--take on Clinton, Inc. and win.

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