One strains, studying the entire history of presidential elections, to think of a president who was re-elected under such economic conditions as prevail in the U.S. today. Now, with June's campaign finance data trickling out, we can add the grotesque financial mismanagement of the Obama campaign as another factor counting against the president in addition to those historic headwinds.
Last time around, Mr. Obama argued that his successful management of his campaign was proof that he was up to the administrative challenges of the presidency. Now, with months of evidence to back us, his opponents can convincingly argue that, in fact, his campaign shares the defects of his administration: out-of-control spending over the long term followed not by spending reductions, but instead by a frantic search for more money, wherever it might be found.
We don't know the final numbers for June yet. But here is what we do know. The Romney campaign and the RNC, smashing records, finished the month with around $160 million in cash on hand after raising $106 million over the last month. The Obama campaign raised $71 million in June after finishing May with $109 million in cash on hand. Figuring out the Obama campaign's present cash level is a matter of simple algebra -- $109 million plus $71 million minus X, X being the amount spent in June.
How much did Team Obama spend in June? Given that they haven't leaked the figure yet, it stands to reason that whatever the number is, it must be high enough to leave them trailing Team Romney. Based on ad spending and what we know about the Obama campaign's fixed costs, I think that we can make an educated guess. During some weeks in June, the Obama campaign spent as much as $16 million in television advertising. All told, from what figures are publicly available, it seems reasonable to estimate that Obama's June ad spending totaled in the range of $50 million.
However, the Obama campaign's fixed expenses are also extremely high. With 700 employees, the campaign is spending at this point around $3 million a month in staff alone. In fact, at earlier points during this campaign, nearly half of Obama's spending was directed towards administrative expenses -- a reflection of a campaign infrastructure that was shaped during a period when they were anticipating raising more than $1 billion for the race. In other words, $60 million is probably a lowball estimate for Obama's June spending, leaving his campaign at a significant cash disadvantage versus the Romney campaign heading into July.
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