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Not that Barack Obama needs a bailout, but he could use $50 million a month

September 26, 2008 | 12:04 pm

Barack Obama’s fund-raising operation crushed all others for most of the 2008 campaign. He raised twice as much as Republican John McCain.

But a new analysis suggests that the Democrat could face a money shortfall in the campaign's final weeks.

Democratic and Republican candidates raised a stunning $1.22 billion during the primary season, which ended when the parties held their conventions and nominated their candidates. That is 81% more than the 2004 presidential candidates, the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute noted.

Led by Obama, Democratic candidates raised $787 million to the Republicans' $477 million. Obama had $77.4 million in the bank at the end of August, compared with McCain's $27 million.

But in the general election, party fund-raising becomes more important -- and the Democratic National Committee lags behind the Republican National Committee. The DNC had $17.7 million in the bank at the end of August, compared with the RNC’s $76.5 million.

Added to the mix, McCain opted to receive $84 million in federal money to run his general election campaign. With that money, the Campaign Finance Institute calculates, McCain and the RNC had $187.6 million to Obama's and the DNC’s $95.1 million, a $92-million gap as the general election began.

“Even if Democratic Party committees match their Republican counterparts’ efforts for the presidential race in September and October, Obama will have to raise around $50 million a month for his forces to equal the combined Republican/McCain total,” the institute says.

Of course, Obama has raised more than $50 million in many months, and topped out at roughly $66 million in August.

--Dan Morain