Obama’s Impressive First Quarter

He raised $25 millionin the first quarter. He raised that money from a whopping 100,000 people. From NYSunPolitics:

The senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, has posted some stunningly positive fundraising figures for the first quarter: $25 million overall, with at least $23.5 million available for the primary. This money, according to the campaign, comes from more than 100,000 donors, some 50,000 of those having given online.

“This overwhelming response, in only a few short weeks, shows the hunger for a different kind of politics in this country and a belief at the grassroots level that Barack Obama can bring out the best in America to solve our problems,” said Obama for America finance chair Penny Pritzker.

What’s important about the number, of course, is that it comes within a hair’s width of tying Hillary Clinton’s $26 million for the first quarter…

And, since the Clinton camp won’t say how much of that money is for the primary, it’s possible that Mr. Obama has raised more for the primary.

Given how powerful Mrs. Clinton’s fundraising apparatus is, and given how much of a newcomer Mr. Obama is, this has to count as one of the biggest surprises of the campaign so far. While money isn’t everything, Mrs. Clinton — like John McCain — was counting on “inevitability” to carry her through. She — again, like Mr. McCain — no longer has that.

What’s more, those 100,000 donors to Mr. Obama far outpace Mrs. Clinton’s 50,000 donors and John Edwards’s 37,000. That’s a very wide base of support from small donors — people the Obama camp can come back to again and again. A full $6.9 million came from the 50,000 Internet donors alone.

Hillary can’t be pleased that her campaign is not going as easily as she expected. Obama is really giving her a run for her money – literally.

Update: The Examiner has an editorial today that argues, correctly, that McCain-Feingold is the reason for the massive fundraising by candidates in both parties. As a result, the law that was supposed to remove the “corrupting influence of money on politics” has made money even more of a corrupting influence than ever before:

Think back to the days before McCain-Feingold became law. The biggest target of the law’s backers was the estimated $500 million in soft money contributed to political parties by corporations, individuals, labor unions and others. Just last year, Fred Wertheimer and Trevor Potter, two of the most ardent McCain-Feingold supporters, charged that soft money “ultimately turned into a $500 million national scandal and disgrace.” Now it looks like the presidential primary contenders will equal or even surpass that once-scandalous threshold long before the start of the general election campaign. We know little or nothing about what was promised by the candidates in return for this unprecedented flood of cash.

There is a distinction to be made between “soft” and “hard” money in politics, but the common denominator is the cash, the corrupting influence that McCain-Feingold’s backers sought to eliminate. Ever since Bill and Hillary Clinton put a “For Rent” sign on the Lincoln bedroom in the White House and found creative new ways to channel foreign money into domestic politics, gathering and collecting from campaign donors has been raised — or lowered — to levels of sophistication and efficiency that would have amazed Boss Tweed. Despite McCain-Feingold, more money is flowing to candidates than ever before in American politics.

What McCain-Feingold did accomplish was opening the door for Congress to decide what is acceptable political speech. For the first time in American history, individual citizens cannot join with like-minded others as members of a variety of associations to buy a broadcast spot to criticize an incumbent congressman by name for 60 days prior to the November election. In other words, this terrible law has unleashed the most corrupting influence of all in giving career politicians the power of government to silence their critics. McCain-Feingold must be repealed.

Playing with fire
"Hey, whatever happened to ol' what's-his-face?"