Barack Obama often talks about how much money he’s raised from small donors, even describing it as “a parallel public financing system.” But while Obama has indeed raised record sums from little guys, big donors have kept pace, writes Jay Mandle of the Washington Post, predicting that when the dust settles, their 2008 role will have increased, rather than decreased. Through March, he notes, Obama's small-donor percentage was actually smaller than John Kerry's.
Big-money donations are also approaching record territory, and both candidates routinely hold fundraisers of the thousand-dollar-a-plate variety. Until this spring, it was those donors powering Obama. That he still courts them proves that his grass-roots groundswell hasn’t fixed our system. It’s just a “fig leaf,” Mandle writes, “averting our gaze from the continued and intensifying stranglehold that big donors have on our democracy.”