Obama by the Numbers

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The first big news from the second quarter fundraising race is in. Barack Obama has built a fundraising base that is approaching 250,000 donors–a stunning total. (By comparison, Howard Dean’s campaign, which had set a new standard for grassroots fundraising, claimed about 70,000 for the first two quarters of 2003.) Political watchers–at least, the ones I’ve been talking to–had expected a significant boost from the 104,000 Obama reported in the first quarter, which had been impressive in itself. But this increase is about triple the predictions I had been hearing. Many of these are small donors, some giving as little as $5, so it’s unclear what that means for the size of Obama’s haul for the quarter. But because these donors are nowhere near maxxed out under the campaign contribution laws, Obama can go to them again and again.

UPDATE: Commenter P_Luk writes:

I do wish that journalists would stop treating the “fundraising race” as “big news.”
Its not. Its DC insider BS in “news” drag — and a sign of journalistic laziness in which supposed “reporters” perform the same function as purveyors of “$5.00 Psychic Readings”.

Gotta disagree with you on this one, P_Luk. When 250,000 people are feeling engaged and passionate enough about a newcomer candidate 17 months before an election to open their checkbooks (or click PAYPAL, or whatever), that looks like an OUTSIDE the Beltway story to me–and potentially a very significant one.

Just to give you a sense of where things stood at the end of the first quarter, here’s a chart from the Campaign Finance Institute showing how large a share of the early money (including Obama’s) has been raised from big contributors, who are the traditional players.

UPDATE ON THE UPDATE: I can’t keep up with you guys. This from commenter Mikeg:

Hey, Karen cribbed my response to p_luk in her Update! Where my credit at?

Consider yourself credited.