At first blush, John McCain's $15 million fundraising haul in March may sound like good news for his campaign. After all, it was his best month to date.
The figure was confirmed by a McCain campaign official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the figure has not yet been officially released. The amount represents his best month yet, up from $11 million he raised in February and the $11.7 million he brought in for January.
But the fact Senator Barack Obama brought in $40 million and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton raised about $20 million in March highlights anew the fund-raising disparity between the Democrats and Republicans that has been a recurring theme over the past year.
The New York Times characterized the $15 million figure as evidence of McCain's fundraising "picking up." That's a positive spin on what appears to be discouraging news for the Republican candidate. Jonathan Singer offers some much-needed context:
In March, the Obama campaign raised some $40 million, putting their overall total for the quarter in the range of $130 million. The Clinton campaign, which no longer has a particularly easy path to the nomination, raised $20 million in March, raising her total for the year to roughly $70 million. McCain, on the other hand, could only manage to bring in $15 million for the month -- including just $4 million from the grassroots -- moving his overall haul for 2008 to under $40 million.
In other words, McCain couldn't raise in three months what Obama was able to raise just this past month alone (a fundraising month that actually represented a decline of more than a quarter from the previous month). Pitting McCain against Clinton, the Republican in three months took in just 70 percent of what the Democrat was able to bring in during just two months.
Patrick Ruffini told his fellow Republicans what they probably don't want to hear: "As much as I don't want to sound unhelpful, it's time for a little tough love. If anyone thinks McCain raising $15 million in March is good news -- and crucially, just $4M of it from online and direct mail -- then they're probably part of the problem rather than part of the solution."