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Question and… more Questions time: were the DNC’s June fund-raising numbers over-estimated? [UPDATE: No, but not 100% no]

This one I'll call a "Guide to the Perplexed," but only because I'm one of them.

{Updated here. Short version: not quite a nothingburger, but they have the money.}

Q. So, what’s going on?

A. The Democrats seem not to have as much money as somebody told us that they have.

Q. Excuse me?

A. Yup. Specifically, the Democratic National Committee. As per the FEC Disclosure form for June, which has finally gone up, they have only $4.53 million in the bank, and raised only $7.59 million last month.

Q. Hold on. Didn’t they claim…

A. $22.5 million raised, $20.3 million in the bank? Yup. See here and here. At the time, I accepted the numbers myself, as did everybody else on the planet.

Q. So, why the discrepancy?

A. I don’t know.

Q. Excuse me?

A. No, really: I don’t know. There doesn’t seem to be any explanation for it.Q. Hey! What about something like those State Victory Party things that the GOP has?

A. That was my first thought, but I don’t think that it works. If you look here, back when I reported on McCain’s fund-raising numbers the campaign reported that McCain had $22 million raised and $26.7 million cash on hand. There was also another $8 million-plus in State Victory Party money… which would explain why the numbers from the FEC are under those of Opensecrets. The latter is including the State Party Victory money in the running total cash on hand.

Q. So?

A. So, if the Democrats have something similar, OpenSecrets would have included it in Obama’s or the DNC’s totals, too. They didn’t: Obama’s FEC and OpenSecrets numbers pretty much match.

Q. Which means?

A. One of three things:

1). Somebody over-reported the DNC’s June numbers to ABC News. To the tune of almost $15 million dollars collected, and almost $16 million cash on hand.

2). Somebody under-reported the DNC’s June numbers to the FEC, for the same amount.

3). There’s a revenue stream that I’m missing. If that’s true, it’s not easily found.

Q. So why is this so important?

A. It’s important because if the DNC doesn’t have the money on hand that was reported earlier, the dynamics of the race actually have not shifted the way we assumed that they had.

Q. Not shifted?

A. It goes like this. The RNC is McCain’s backstop: this year, it’s White House first, everything else second. They fully intend to micro-target important Congressional and Senatorial races, but the primary objective for them is winning the Presidency. We’ve known this for a while, which is why everybody talks in terms of McCain having $104.37 million to deal with, not $35.64 million. And he can and will be using that cash all the way up to the convention, because he knows that he’s got $87 million to run with once it’s over. So he’s already budgeted for $200 million, and expecting $50 million a month from the RNC for the next four months is actually reasonable.

The DNC, contrariwise, has been an albatross around the Democratic Party’s neck up to this point: the reports that it actually got its act together relieved many on the Left. To get $400 million between now and October, Obama/the DNC needs to gather either $77 million a month (assuming $92 million cash on hand), or $81 million (assuming $76 million). Not much of a difference… except that if the DNC did not raise $20 million dollars last month then Senator Obama is going to have to make up that difference himself. Put another way: the $20 million dollars / month revenue stream is necessary for Obama to achieve a rough parity with McCain/the RNC. A $7 million / month from the DNC will require him to break his existing fund-raising records for four months straight in order to make up for it. And the margin between what he needs and what he gets is going to be the margin that the RNC can use on legislative races.

Put another way, $92 million vs $104 million was good news for the Democrats: it indicated that they could reasonably hope to collect enough money to make up for the lack of public financing. $72 million vs $104 million wasn’t: it indicated that they were still struggling to catch up. It was better news for the Obama campaign – let’s not forget that he broke $50 million, which he really needed to do – but much less so for the rest of his Party.

Q. Unless there’s a revenue stream that you haven’t found?

A. Unless there’s a revenue stream that I haven’t found. The problem with that scenario is that the only argument that I’ve come up with so far that there might be one is that I cannot quite believe that I am the first person in Western civilization to have noticed this discrepancy…

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