For campaign finance junkies there were two very interesting reports out today. One shows that Barack Obama raised a stunning $32 million last month. And another shows that, until very recently, anyway, John McCain’s campaign was virtually broke.
Does this tell us anything about how these two candidates might stack up against each other financially in a general election? Maybe not. An often overlooked deal between McCain and Sen. Obama last March to accept public financing if they both got their parties’ nominations is suddenly seeming pretty important.
As David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times noted almost ten months ago:
“Such a pact would eliminate any financial edge one candidate might have and limit each campaign to $85 million for the general election. The two candidates would have to return any private donations that they had raised for that period.”
But there’s one more wrinkle to this story. Just two days ago, Politico reported that after a recent increase in fundraising (following his victories in New Hampshire and South Carolina) McCain is seeking to get out of the public financing program for the primaries. The Federal Elections Commission might have to sign off on his exit from the program, which poses a problem given the current political stalemate handicapping the agency.
What this might mean for the “deal” struck between Obama and McCain regarding public financing for the general election is anyone’s guess.