Trivia question from the future: "Who broke the all-time record for campaign fundraising and still fell below expectations?" Answer: Hillary! She raised around $26 million from January through March 31 but
the New York senator did not appear to open the sort of gap between herself and leading rivals that would presage the lopsided primary contest some expected as recently as late last year. And it seemed unlikely that her first-quarter numbers would knock out any of her main competitors.
An adviser to one of Clinton's rivals expressed some relief at Clinton's total.
"They'd counted on grinding the whole field into dust, and that didn't happen," the adviser said. "Now they have to win a fair fight."
This is a function of Clinton hiring some of the most proud and loud-mouthed campaign magi on the planet. Chief among them: Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chairman, who recently bragged (presumably holding his pinkie up to his lip) that Clinton would raise $10 trillion. This was a joke, but only in the "No Mr. Bond I expect you to die" sense. After months of that kind of dick-swinging, Clinton's only raised about half as much as the rest of the field put together.
Obama—Rumored to be $22M
As the Republican field announces its totals, look for the breathless commentary about how all these records are being broken (the previous records for this period in a campaign were about $9M for Phil Gramm 1995 and Al Gore 1999) and money dominates our politics and it's just so sad. This commentary will ignore the fact that 1)McCain/Feingold reforms have more than doubled the contribution limits and 2)all of the campaigns have shattered records for the numbers of individual donors giving small amounts of money.