Sen. Barack Obama raised $31 million for his presidential primary campaign over the past three months, surging past Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's fundraising machine by nearly $10 million for the quarter to take the lead in contributions in the crowded Democratic field.
Among other Democrats, former senator John Edwards (N.C.) finished third in the fundraising race this quarter, meeting his $9 million goal after a last-minute appeal from his wife, Elizabeth Edwards, that played off of controversial remarks by conservative television commentator Ann Coulter. Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico was not far behind, raising $7 million for the quarter.
The impressive point, Obama appears to be receiving massive support from small donors:
Obama's performance was built on the strength of 154,000 new contributors, giving him well over a quarter-million donors since he started the race.
The vast majority of Obama's donors gave in relatively small amounts, the campaign said, meaning they can be tapped several more times. The average donation was $202; individual donors can give up to $2,300 under the law.
Fundraising provides organization, but it is also a powerful way to garner momentum with the media. On the other hand, Edwards relatively poor showing gives the appearance that he is falling behind. Apart from coverage, fundraising totals also tend to feed on themselves, in that potential donors in the future are influenced by current totals. If a campaign looks viable, then you can expect more money to roll in, whereas a longshot bid tends to see money dry up. The challenge for Edwards moving forward, convince people that he can compete. For Obama, this record showing counteracts the emerging opinion that Clinton is pulling away.