The numbers Michael Steele doesn’t want you to see

THE NUMBERS MICHAEL STEELE DOESN’T WANT YOU TO SEE…. When a major party campaign committee waits until late on a Friday night in mid-August to release its fundraising totals, it’s a safe bet the numbers aren’t very good.

In general, there’s been relative parity between the parties’ fundraising committees, at least in recent months. We learned this week, for example, that the Democrats’ Senate campaign committee did slightly better than the Republicans’ counterpart in the most recent filings. Among the House committees, the NRCC did a little better than the DCCC. In both cases, Democrats have a modest edge when it comes to cash on hand.

But the real story here is the disaster for Michael Steele’s Republican National Committee. The party waited until late last night to release its tally for a very simple reason — it was objectively embarrassing.

The Republican National Committee spent twice as much as it raised in July, leaving the committee with just over $5 million on hand with less than three months left before the 2010 midterm elections.

In a report filed with the Federal Election Commission this evening, the RNC showed $5.5 million raised and more than $11 million spent — including $1.5 million in transfers to state party committees — last month. The committee ended July with $5.3 million in the bank and $2.2 million in debt.

The Democratic National Committee raised and spent $11.6 million in July, including nearly $4 million in transfers to state parties. The DNC ended the period with $10.8 million. The DNC had $3.5 million in debt.

The dismal report comes less than a month after RNC Treasurer Randy Pullen accused Chairman Michael Steele of hiding $7 million in debts; the RNC filed amended reports in July detailing $3 million in previously unreported debts.

How humiliated was the RNC? While parties routinely issue press announcements, putting their best spin on their fundraising filings, last night, the RNC said literally nothing. The only reason the media found out about the filing was that the Democratic National Committee tracked it down and flagged it for reporters.

That’s the good news for Dems. The bad news is this is just part of a more complicated landscape.

The RNC’s humiliating problems are likely to undermine the party’s get-out-the-vote efforts, but when it comes to finances, it’s worth remembering that the other Republican committees — NRCC, NSCC, and the Republican Governors Association — are all doing pretty well. What’s more, Republican candidates will get a boost from corporate allies intervening in the cycle in ways unseen in generations, while Karl Rove’s various shady operations keep filling their coffers to finance deceptive attack ads for the fall.

And then, of course, there’s the unpleasant fact that voters aren’t happy with a struggling economy, and seem more inclined to punish the majority party anyway.

Steele’s “leadership” no doubt brings a smile to the faces of leading Democratic officials, but Dems will need more than RNC embarrassments to salvage the cycle.