Barack Obama today announced that he would not take federal financing, opting instead to finance his own campaign. McCain has suggested this means Obama has backed away from a written pledge to do otherwise.
As Kenneth Gross noted tonight on PBS news, this is clearly a money play. Obama has raised a spectacular sum so far in the primaries - over two hundred million dollars, and should have no problems raising far more than that for the general election. With a donor average which I think is still in the neighborhood of 100-200 and a maximum of 2300 per donor, look for Obama to fill his campaign warchest with at least another 400,000,000 before the November votes are tallied.
McCain's ability to raise the huge funding needed to compete is much less certain. Republicans sensing a likely loss in 2008 may choose not to send as much to McCain as if he was more competitive. So far McCain has only been raising about 21 million per month on average. Unless he sees a huge and dramatic surge in funding McCain will be at a huge financial disadvantage barring some huge help from the Republican National Committee and the 527 groups that have far less stringent financial requirements and therefore can take large donations from wealthy Republicans.
McCain will likely be much more comfortable now with the 527 group "swiftboating" ads which may offer his only hope at competing with Obama.