Barack Obama Wins First Primary

And the winner is …

For a while, we thought it was Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). After all, she set a new world’s record for fundraising: $26 million in the first quarter of 2007. No doubt about it. With her proven ability to raise money like that, it looked like Hillary had the Democratic nomination all locked up.

But that was three days ago. Today, the big winner is … Barack Obama. The senator from Illinois has stunned the political world by reporting $25 million raised. Almost as much as Hillary’s $26 million total, but better than Hillary in several significant ways.

Obama had twice as many contributors: 100,000 -- compared to Hillary’s 50,000 -- contributors he can go back to, again and again. Obama raised almost twice as much as Hillary on the Internet: $7 million -- compared to her $4 million. And $23.5 million of Obama’s funds can be spent in the primary -- compared to Hillary’s $20 million.

Most significantly, Obama was able to accomplish that with no PAC money, no contributions from federal lobbyists, and no help from another Clinton named Bill.

It is a remarkable showing for a candidate nobody had heard of two years ago -- and it changes the entire dynamic of the 2008 presidential campaign.

Suddenly the inevitability of Hillary Clinton’s winning the Democratic nomination doesn’t seem so inevitable anymore.