Why public financing in November won’t matter as much as you think

Earlier we talked about how Sen. John McCain’s calling out of Sen. Obama on the latter’s promise to commit to public financing in the general election if he were the nominee and came to the conclusion that it was a win-win for McCain and a lose-lose for Obama. While I agree, if Obama turns down the challenge and goes back on his word, it would be horrible for his image, and if he accepts public financing, it will erase his distinct advantage in fundraising. But hold up, here’s why it may not matter as much as you think. Under public financing, private donations to campaigns would be off-limits, however, contributions to the Democratic and Republican parties, and more importantly, 527’s will still be fair game. It’s safe to say that even with Obama’s huge advantage in direct campaign contributions in a non-public financed election, conservatives would level the playing field by pumping millions into 527’s which can say pretty much whatever they want (except for the ‘magic words’ of “vote for,” “vote against,” etc.). If Obama does become the nominee and does in fact commit to public financing, instead of sending our $15 directly to the campaign, we will be ordered to send them to the DNC or 527s set up to support Obama and tear down McCain, essentially putting us right back where we started. However, you could make the case that people won’t donate as enthusiastically to the DNC and 527s, although I don’t think too many people will fret over the “donate now” button redirecting you to the Democratic party’s site instead of staying on barackobama.com. Also, you can bet the DNC will pump every cent they can into the presidential election, because if they can’t win this time they might as well close up shop. While obviously the best case scenario for Sen. Obama would be for John McCain to back off the challenge and for the public financing debate to go away, but I don’t think it would have the weight to swing the election if in fact they are locked into public financing for the general election.

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