The Obama campaign also spent $5 million on a 30-minute network infomercial that aired on several broadcast networks and cable stations.
Obama even was up on the air in the pricey TV markets of Chicago and Boston. Why? Because he could. The campaign wanted to reach northwest Indiana voters by buying the Chicago media market, and some New Hampshire voters by buying Boston.
McCain and the RNC, on the other hand, only used local Indiana and New Hampshire TV stations to reach voters in those states.
Republicans have conceded that it looked like the deck was stacked against McCain because of GOP brand problems, the economic meltdown and record dissatisfaction with President Bush. But some believe McCain never had a real shot because of the financial disadvantage. They say the fact Democrats had about $400 million more than Republicans made all the difference and the campaign finance system -- is doomed.
"No presidential candidate will ever take public financing in the general election again and risk being outspent as badly as Mr. McCain was this year," wrote Karl Rove in Thursday's Wall Street Journal.
Nine days after the election, the Republican National Committee filed two lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, which amended the original campaign finance laws on the books. McCain helped write the current campaign finance law, which ironically, some conservatives think limited what the Republican National Committee was able to do on his behalf.
Through the course of the campaign, Obama and team boasted about their unprecedented number of small donors, who wrote checks of $5, $10, $10 or $100. Team Obama has claimed that about 80 percent of its money came from small donors.
A recent Campaign Finance Institute study raised questions about that claim, finding that Obama received about the same percentage of donors who gave a total of less than $200 as George W. Bush received in 2004. The study found that the number of small donors who over time had exceeded $200 had been underestimated by the campaign.
Its hard to know for sure if that's the case or not. Contributions of less than $200 are listed as unitemized receipts in campaign finance filings, meaning information about the donor is not required. Interestingly, the percent of Obama unitemized receipts stayed pretty steady throughout 2008. February through September, Obama's unitemized percentage was between 35 percent and 42 percent every month -- which would seem to indicate that the campaign's level of small donors remained steady.
Obama's big fundraising success contrasts with the situation of his main primary opponent, Hillary Clinton, whose campaign spent more than it raised. A report filed last month shows, Clinton carries a $7.5 million campaign debt as she prepares for Senate confirmation to head the State Department in the Obama administration.
Once confirmed as secretary of state, Clinton would be barred by the Hatch Act of 1939 from soliciting and receiving political contributions.