Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Keeping things in perspective

I think it is important to keep in perspective just what Dean might be accomplishing this season. For that you have to get into the details of federal matching funds and the limits involved. Here's the deal on the matching funds (warning: I'm not a lawyer, just a blogger). If a candidate accepts matching funds (the first $250 of each individuals donations are matched, up to a total amount that is calculated based on tax receipts) then they must also accept the limits that say they won't spend more then X amount of dollars during the campaign season. In this case, for the primary season, X is about $45 million dollars. Now, in a normal year, few Democrats could ever dream of raising so much money that, even with the matching funds, they would actually hit that limit. However, Dean might just do it. In other words, if he can raise, without matching funds, more than $45 million dollars, then he would be beyond stupid not to forego the matching funds and thus be able to use all of the $45+ million in the upcoming campaign season (until he gets the nomination, after that the cycle starts all over again for the general). The mere fact that Dean's campaign has raised the possibility that they might be able to do this has got to have stunned all the other candidates, including Bush/Rove. The last Democrat to be able to do this was Clinton in the 95-96 cycle, and that was when he was a sitting President! Clinton also got involved in a lot of fundraising scandals because of the amount of money he raised. Dean has been able to raise all this money almost completely from small time donors. Not much chance of a major scandal there. Yet he could actually top Clinton's fundraising totals from 8 years ago! Pretty amazing for a guy who virtually no one had heard of six months ago.

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