Barack Obama raised $66 million from donors in August, shattering his own personal best of $55 million in February and setting a new record for presidential fund raising in a single month.
The Obama campaign said Sunday that 500,000 new donors gave money in August, bringing the cumulative total of donors to 2.5 million people.
While Sen. Obama's cash haul is impressive by historical standards, the money race between him and Republican John McCain is likely to be tighter than many political observers had originally thought. Though Sen. Obama's total surpassed the $47 million that Sen. McCain raised in August, the Arizona Republican is also receiving $85 million in taxpayer matching funds for the campaign. He can also count on about $110 million that Republican operatives say the Republican Party will report having on hand at the beginning of September.
Between party funds and campaign funds, the Republicans appear to have had about $200 million banked as of Sept. 1. The Democratic total as of that date appears to have been roughly half that.
The Obama campaign reported $77 million in cash on hand as of Sept. 1. The Democratic National Committee, the main conduit for party donations to be spent on the presidential race, hasn't yet reported its August numbers. But given that it has long lagged behind its Republican counterpart and only had $7.7 million on hand at the beginning of August, the Sept. 1 total is expected to be far less than what the Republicans have on hand. Democratic fund-raisers have said they expect the DNC to report August contributions of about $25 million.
Sen. Obama became the first presidential candidate to opt out of public financing and the spending limits that go with it, on the belief that he could raise more on his own. While his monthly totals have consistently surpassed Sen. McCain's, it looks likely that the two will have similar amounts to spend in the weeks leading up to the November election. Sen. McCain can't spend more than $85 million of the money he raises, but party committees can spend whatever they raise.
Both parties continue to raise tremendous amounts of money, with the Republicans harnessing President Bush and Sen. McCain's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, to do much of their fund raising. The Republicans say their goal is to raise about $220 million more in the remaining weeks of the race. Sen. Obama, meanwhile, plans to attend a fund-raiser in Miami on Friday evening, which organizers predict will bring in between $2 million and $3 million. That would be a record for single-night fund raising in Florida.
Write to Christopher Cooper