I do feel bad for the guy, but with the internet providing the means for anybody to easily donate to a campaign, the game changed and McCain’s public finance laws couldn’t change with it.

From Wash Times:

“No Republican in his or her right mind is going to agree to public financing. I mean, that’s dead. That is over. The last candidate for president of the United States from a major party that will take public financing was me,” the Arizona Republican told The Washington Times. […]

Mr. McCain said last year’s election has forever changed the way presidential elections are run. He said Mr. Obama carried traditional red states such as North Carolina by outspending him, and specified that in battleground Florida, the Democrat outspent him on television and radio advertising by $28 million. […]

Mr. McCain raised his own money for the primary season but accepted public financing for the general election, constraining himself to about $84 million for the campaign’s last two months. Mr. Obama, by contrast, stayed outside the public system for the primary and general elections, raising a total of $779 million, including $150 million in September.

Still, McCain rightly points out that Obama’s team raised a lot of money from big donors too, but all those donations were within the limits of campaign finance law. So I’m not sure why he even brings it up…

“There’s just an ability to raise so much more money now, and they did it very, very effectively,” he said. “They were able to raise incredible amounts of money. But don’t think it was all small donors; they raised the same percentage of big donors versus small donors as we did, they just did a hell of a lot more of it.”

I don’t have the number here in front of me, but Obama probably raised more money from small donors than McCain raised in total. So to complain about big donors is a case of sour grapes, otherwise…why even bring up the money raised by big donors, when “big” has a cap placed on it?

Moving on…

  • kranky kritter

    McCain’s point seems astonishingly obvious to me.

    Democrats always wants everyone to regard them as the champion of the little guy and the outsiders in contrast to the GOP, which is to be regarded as the sole property of big powerful insider interests.

    That’s been a cherished part of the liberal litany for generations. So I can anticipate that many of the dem partisans here want to fight that argument, because they believe this take is essentially true. I’m not interested. Everyone can have their own mileage.

    My opinion, which McCain accentuated pretty clearly, is this:

    When it comes to big powerful insider special interests, the democrats do just fine.

    Anyone who wants to add other facts and arguments to spin this some other way to accentuate their PoV is welcome to it. But the simple fact as stated just above is stubbornly true, even if you want to argue about what it means, precisely.

  • Neither party is quite as distinct as they like to claim. In a two-party-system both parties try to get the median voter’s vote, and therefore they end up broadly similar. Individual candidates can differ greatly, but if an entire major party is actually diametrically opposed to the other major party you tend to end up with Civil War. Given the high correlation between Civil Wars and Mass Death I am strongly in favor of major-party-blandness.

    That said the Dems actually do worse than the GOP in terms of fundraising almost all the time. ’08 was different for two reasons. For one McCain was in trouble from the get-go. He led a few times, but according to the RCP poll averages he never led by 3. Given that organization (aka: ground game) is worth 2-3 points, and Obama’s organization was massive, true political junkies McCain was never really ahead. For another Obama brought a lot of new folks into politics.

    It’s possible those newly activated folks will stay loyal Dems, and continue to give. It’s possible the GOP has started a tradition of nominating sacrificial lambs. It’s also possible for the new Dems to not like the next nominee, while the GOP figures out a new direction, and nominates a compelling candidate.

  • kranky kritter

    One reason why the GOP has usually out-raised the democrats in Prez elections is because the winning nominee is usually the frontrunner who got rubber-stamped ahead of time. Didn’t happen this time. McCain wasn’t the favorite, and got less money going along because he continued not to be very popular with the base.

    Will the 2012 GOP nom be seriously contested, or will the already-preferred candidate get rubber-stamped? I suspect the former, but there’s plenty of time.

    I don’t think anyone can dismiss the increased power of the small donor in this age. True enthusiasm on the part of everyday individuals translating to candidate cash has shown that it can be a gamechanger for campaign finance.

    Don’t expect the GOP to get caught flat-footed next time. But also don’t underestimate the importance of Obama himself in. IMO, one can attribute the 2008 fundraising gap to a substantial charisma deficit between the candidates.

    Much of the GOP base seems to be responding to that by wishing that Sara Palin will be the best choice to bridge that gap. I am currently still skeptical. While I think Palin inspires a similar level of passion, I don’t think her appeal is nearly as broad. Time will tell. There is time for her to broader her appeal, but she has yet to show me she has the political skill and empathic crowd understanding to reach the master level of Clinton, Reagan, and Obama.

  • Terry

    I was very disappointed to the Barrack Obama go back on his word to accept presidential funding and the restrictions that goes with it, if the Republican Candidate also did the same. Is shows BHO will not keep his word about changing DC for the better.

  • Joshua

    kranky, I have my doubts that Palin’s even going to run. The signals she’s been sending out lately suggest she may not be game for the extended political battle royale that the presidential campaign has become. As I’ve said here a few times before, it’s one thing to run for two months as someone’s running-mate, another thing altogether to commit as many as two years to a presidential bid.

    Even if Palin does run, one look at the last two non-incumbent-party primary campaigns suggests that even a heavy initial favorite (Howard Dean in ’04 and Hillary Clinton in ’08, anyone?) is anything but a mortal lock to win the nomination.