Obama Donors Pick Up Pace: A $32 Million Month

By Matthew Mosk and Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, February 1, 2008

The campaign of Democrat Barack Obama raised at least $32 million in January, a dramatic escalation in fundraising that came amid a series of primaries that generated record interest among voters.

The January haul is a marked increase from the already brisk fundraising pace that Obama and rival Hillary Rodham Clinton set last year.

In reports filed with the Federal Election Commission last night, Clinton reported raising nearly $27 million in the last three months of 2007. Obama raised $23.5 million during that period.

Clinton finished the year with $18 million on hand that could be spent during the primaries. Obama had $13 million.

The two leading Democrats finished 2007 having each raised more than $100 million and spent in excess of $80 million.

The Clinton campaign also saw a significant uptick in fundraising in January, according to a source familiar with the campaign's efforts, though the campaign has so far declined to publicly discuss its January totals.

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said yesterday that the contributions in January came from 170,000 new donors, bringing the campaign's total number of contributors to 650,000.

Plouffe said the money came in at a consistent pace throughout the month, but the campaign's strongest day of fundraising came immediately after the New Hampshire primary, which Obama narrowly lost to Clinton.

"We took a lot of encouragement from that, because it showed the resolve of our existing donor base," Plouffe said.

Regardless of which candidate they favor, Democratic leaders view Obama's January mega-haul as proof that party voters across the country are highly motivated this year.

In addition to outraising Republicans more or less across the board, including for 2008 congressional races, Democrats turned out in record numbers for contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. They also participated in greater numbers than Republicans.

"Democratic voter and donor energy are only two examples of Democrats being ready for game day" in November, said Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), a member of the Democratic leadership, who has not endorsed a candidate in the presidential race.

As for the money being raised, the campaigns will need every dollar as they battle for delegates in 22 states on Feb. 5, followed by a steady stream of contests through March. The Feb. 5 slate includes some of the most expensive television markets in the country, including New York, Chicago and much of California.

Plouffe said new Obama ads will hit airwaves today in the Washington area, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the six states that are scheduled to hold primaries or caucuses on Feb. 9, 10 and 12. The money, Plouffe said, will "be critical to transacting what obviously is a very challenging calendar."

© 2008 The Washington Post Company