Monday, July 2, 2007

Obama and McCain: two campaigns moving in opposite directions

Barack Obama has surged ahead of Hillary Clinton in fundraising:

Sen. Barack Obama outraised Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton by $10 million in second-quarter contributions that can be spent on the Democratic presidential primary contest, aided by the contributions of 154,000 individual donors.

Obama's campaign on Sunday reported raising at least $31 million for the primary contest and an extra $1.5 million for the general election from April through June, a record for a Democratic candidate.

Clinton's campaign announced late Sunday that she had raised $21 million for the primary. With general election contributions added, aides said her total sum would be "in the range" of $27 million. Candidates can only use general election money if they win their party's nomination.

Clinton has a strong lead in national polls, but Obama is competitive with her in several keys states and is leading her in South Carolina. Interestingly enough, while Obama is doing quite well on the internet, that's not what's putting him over the top:
It's not the internet, but instead it's Obama's strategy of having paid events has been the boon needed to skyrocket his donor numbers. I've not seen a story on the phenomenon that he's created, but the paid venues have got to have provided Obama with tens of thousands of donors to add to his overall numbers. It's the speaking-venue donors (similar to a rock concert), not internet donors, that's leveraged the donor numbers for Obama; and alongside the astounding high-donor numbers that have sky-rocketed his total raised, it's combined to create a compelling narrative that gives a strategic advantage to Obama.
I guess it's easy to raise lots of money when this is how people react to you:
The scene is a grass-covered hillside at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

The sun beats down and anticipation builds like beads of sweat.

In the back of the crowd, folks are squinting. It's nearly a football field's distance to the stage. In between, it's a solid sea of people, some swaying to the rock music.

Any minute now, they expect to see the senator pop up on-stage. But Obama doesn't take the easy route. A buzz grows in the back of the huge gathering. Thousands of heads turn.

There he is. There, there ... He's way in the back in a bright, white shirt. He's slowly making his way down a narrow pathway through the humanity. People reach to touch him. He touches them back.

Finally, he hops up some stairs, gives hugs to the VIPs and steps onto a simple platform, where he'll spend much of the next hour talking about the state of the union, the fate of the planet and this moment in history that he -- and they -- are supposed to seize.

Obama might cut the slightest physical profile in the race to win the nomination at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. But his speaking voice projects the most gravity.

"As I approached this campaign, I had to ask myself, 'Why now? Why us?' " Obama tells the Iowa City crowd, which has grown as quiet as a church congregation. "The answer is because the country is calling us. History beckons us."

There's silence as he denounces the "cynicism" he thinks has taken over the society, cheers when he talks about hope.

The crowd is hushed when he talks about the environment, and applauds when he talks about enacting tougher, California-like pollution standards.

Folks roar their approval when he talks about health insurance for "every single American."

A tense silence takes over when he talks about the war in Iraq. Then the crowd raises its voice along with him when he alludes to rival candidates serving in Congress and says the war "should have never been authorized."

Without naming Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, he has tried to set himself up as the one major candidate who was on record against the war before it started.

By the time he leaves the stage, the people in the grass are riled up and swaying to the Motown song, "Your Love is Lifting Me Higher."

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, the picture is looking grimmer and grimmer for John McCain:
John McCain's campaign, trailing top Republican rivals in money and polls, is undergoing a significant reorganization with staff cuts in every department, officials with knowledge of the shake-up said Monday.

Some 50 staffers or more are being let go, and senior aides will be subject to pay cuts as the Arizona senator's campaign bows to the reality of six months of subpar fundraising, these officials said.

Once considered the front-runner for the GOP nomination, McCain came in third in the money chase behind Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, raising $13.6 million in the first three months of the year. He is struggling to reach that total in the second financial quarter, and wasn't expected to match it.


His popularity among Republicans has dropped since the start of the year. He has become intimately linked to the unpopular Iraq war, and, in recent weeks, he's drawn criticism from already wary conservatives for his support of Bush's immigration reform bill. He declined to participate in an early test of organizational muscle in the leadoff state of Iowa this summer, and, he's fighting the perception that he's yesterday's candidate.

McCain's support in national polls has slipped. He is in single digits in some surveys in Iowa and South Carolina, trailing Giuliani, the former New York mayor; Romney, the ex-governor of Massachusetts, and Fred Thompson, the actor and former Tennessee senator who's not yet in the race officially.

Put a fork in him.

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