Well now we know why Barack Obama's campaign wanted to wait a few days to release their 1st quarter fundraising totals. They wanted a newscycle all to themselves when they announced they raised over $25 million, just shy of Hillary Clinton's $26 million total. And one takes into account that Clinton's amount includes money raised both for the general and the primary election, where Obama's total is mostly just for the primary, Barack actually raised more money than Hillary, a feat unimaginable a few months ago.
Ever since his original announcement from Springfield, Illinois, Obama has had momentum, partially fueled by his best selling books and his youthful exuberance, but Hillary Clinton has always been the favorite for the nomination in large part because everybody just assumed she'd be able to raise so much more money than anybody else that she'd easily overcome any challenge. That conventional wisdom no longer seems to be accurate. Obama's $25 million haul proves that he is in this for the long term and that while nobody may be able to match the Clinton's dollar-for-dollar in the race for campaign contributions, he is going to come close and is going to be raising more and more money as the months go on.
To best understand why, aside from the whopping dollar figure, Obama's total is so important and such a legitimately huge amount, one must understand the limits on campaign contributions. And while I could explain it, the Associated Press summed up the policy lesson as well as I ever could.
Donors are limited by law to contributions of $2,300 for the primary election, but Clinton, Obama and some other candidates also have been raising money for the general election. That allows them to take another $2,300 from each donor, but the money has to be returned if they don’t win the nomination.So, while Clinton technically raised more actual dollars (and one considers the $10 million she transfered from her Senate re-election campaign warchest, she's still at least $11 ahead of Obama) because she solicited millions in $4,600 donations, and Obama only raised about $1.5 million in similar, general election contributions, Obama is in much better shape as time goes forward to raise even more money from people who have already contributed to his campaign. And Clinton can't use the money she raised for the general election (that second $2,300 contribution) in the primary, meaning Obama, as far as the primary is concerned, likely raised more cash (millions more) than Clinton did.
Clinton’s campaign often solicited the $4,600 donations, while Obama’s campaign focused on recruiting small dollar donors. In the coming months, he can return to those donors and ask those who haven’t maxed out to give more.
Not only that, but in releasing their figures, the Obama campaign said that over 100,000 individuals contributed funds. That's a staggering number and shows Obama's support is wide reaching and has staying power. And in the interest of full disclosure, I contributed roughly $22.50 to the total, as I bought myself an Obama '08 T-Shirt and sign which currently is taped to my door here in the Lawyers Club. Why I'm supporting Obama is a subject for another post (It wasn't an easy decision -- I worked on campus in Ann Arbor during the 2004 Democratic primary for John Edwards, so switching sides made me feel more than a bit conflicted) but I'm heartened to see so many others supporting him. I really think he can bring the country together in a variety of ways, and has the ideas and ability to lead the country into the next decade, and anything removing the inevitability's of Hillary Clinton's nomination is fine with me (don't get me wrong, I don't dislike Hillary like a lot of people do, and if I could vote for Bill Clinton again I'd do so in a second, but let's not hand her the nomination in April).