Obama raised nearly $33 million last quarter.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - For the first time in many years, Democratic candidates for president are raising more money than Republican candidates, according to the second quarter fundraising figures just released by the top candidates.
You think the voters are uninterested and uninvolved this early in the campaign? Think again.
"This is a record breaking amount of money, and this is a record breaking cycle," said Sheila Krumholz from the Center for Responsive Politics. "This will be like no other presidential election before."
Look at the amount of money being raised. In the second quarter of the year before each of the past three presidential elections, the total amounts raised were $34.1 million (1995), $55.3 million (1999) and $65.9 million (2003).
This year, we have second quarter totals for the top three candidates in each party. Those six candidates alone raised $110.7 million.
Why are people giving candidates so much money? Krumholz attributed it to "the lack of public funds being used this time, the increased competitiveness, not having an incumbent in the race. This is just an unusual race on many accounts."
It’s unusual for another reason, too: Democratic candidates are outpacing Republicans. In the second quarter of the year before the 1996 election, Republicans outraised the Democrat, Bill Clinton, $24.5 million to $9.6 million. Okay, but Clinton was running unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
In the second quarter of 1999, Republicans way outraised Democrats $50.2 million to $16.1 million, even though both party nominations were contested. Okay, you could argue that eight Republicans were running and only two Democrats.
In the second quarter of 2003, Republicans again raised more money ($35.1 million to $30.8 million). That year, nine Democrats were running and George W. Bush was unopposed.
In the second quarter of this year, totals for the top three candidates in each party show that, for the first time in recent years, Democrats are outraising Republicans - by more than $26 million ($68.5 million to $42.2 million).
"I'm delighted by the vast amounts of money that the Democrats are raising compared to the Republicans," said Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.
The fundraising totals show Democrats are more engaged and motivated. Ever since their midterm victory last November, many Democrats have been ready to vote for president.
The fundraising totals also show Democrats are more enthusiastic about their candidates - particularly Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, both of whom outraised the top Republican fundraiser Rudy Giuliani. "You get stories of people who come to these Obama events and say, `I haven't much been interested in politics - here, I'll give you the money out of my handbag,’" said John Dickerson, chief political correspondent for Slate. "That gives a sense of momentum, a sense of movement."
In the end, both parties are likely to have all the money they need to run strong national campaigns. It's not the difference in dollars that matters most. It's the difference in motivation and involvement that the dollars reveal.
- CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider