Obama's big advantage

Barack Obama has much more money available to him than John McCain does, and can raise even more.

Published October 21, 2008 3:40PM (EDT)

More good financial news for Barack Obama -- not only did his campaign raise $150 million last month, it had almost $134 million on hand at the beginning of this month.

Obviously, that's a huge sum, but it looks even bigger by comparison. John McCain, who took public financing and is as such subject to a total general election spending limit of $84 million, has just $47 million left to spend and is prohibited from raising more.

That said, though, the two national party organizations are allowed to get into the mix, and that helps McCain level the playing field -- but only somewhat. The Democratic National Committe reported having about $27 million on hand, compared with the Republican National Committee's $77 million.

With those totals factored in, Obama's cash advantage is more like $37 million. But every dollar is not created equal, and in this case, one of the RNC's dollars is not quite as valuable as one of Obama's. Bringing in the party committees means more restrictions, like having to attack "congressional liberals" in ads jointly funded by the McCain camp and the RNC and thus diluting the power of the spots.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

MORE FROM Alex Koppelman

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2008 Elections Barack Obama John Mccain R-ariz.