By Mike Dorning
Hours before the close of the quarterly financial reporting period for presidential campaigns at midnight tonight, the Barack Obama campaign announced a few moments ago that it had attracted more than 350,000 donors since the start of his bid for the White House.
The Obama campaign has consistently reported previously unmatched numbers of donors each quarter this year.
The announcement today follows a pattern Obama has set all year long of first focusing attention on the numbers of people who have donated to the campaign. The campaign portrays the numbers of small donors as an indicator of grass-roots enthusiasm for their candidate.
The campaign has generally waited a day or two before announcing a dollar figure for its quarterly fundraising. Obama also has outpaced his rivals so far in fundraising but not nearly as dramatically as in numbers of donors. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton so far has been raising comparable amounts of cash, although she relies more on big-dollar donors.
Presidential campaigns will likely begin announcing their fundraising totals in the coming days after the quarterly fundraising period ends at midnight tonight.
Among Democrats, the advance spin has Clinton and Obama running close to each other infundraising, with different sources putting either side ahead. But such advance spin has more to do with managing press expectations for maximum impact than providing accurate information.