DNC fundraising sets new record, but outside spending still favors GOP

Holly Bailey
October 4, 2010

The Democratic National Committee raised a record-breaking $16 million in September, the party's largest single month of fundraising since the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law was signed into law in 2002.

That means the DNC heads into the final month of its otherwise bleak campaign year with what will likely be a cash advantage over the GOP. The Republican National Committee has not yet released its fundraising total for September.

Technically, party fundraising reports are not due at the Federal Election Commission until Oct. 20. DNC officials released their summary numbers early to trumpet their good news.

It's unlikely the RNC will come close to the DNC's total, as the party has struggled for months to raise funds under embattled Chairman Michael Steele. Last week, money woes forced the RNC to nix a plan to send staff to boost its "get out the vote" efforts in the final days of the campaign.

While the DNC did not release details on the sources of its September fundraising surge, party officials say they saw a big spike in contributions from small donors — a sign that perhaps President Obama's attempts to appeal to his voter base in '08 is finally working.

That's not to say the GOP is hurting for cash. The party is getting lots of help from outside conservative groups, who in recent week have outspent groups supporting Dems nearly 7 to 1 on TV ads. All told, outside spending for both major parties is nearing $80 million this election cycle. According to the Washington Post's T.W. Farnam and Dan Eggen, that's five times what outside spending was in 2006, the last midterm elections.

But there's a big difference between the outside cash being spent today and the funds raised during the 2006 cycle. As the Post notes, the names of donors responsible for nearly 90 percent of outside spending in '06 were disclosed under campaign finance regulations. Today, the source of that cash is largely secret -- almost half of the biggest spending groups, including Crossroads GPS, are filing under tax codes that don't require donor disclosure.

(Photo of DNC Chairman Tim Kaine: Matt Rourke/AP)