Obama’s “Small Donors” — About the Same Percentage as Bush in 2004

A new report from the Campaign Finance Institute has an intriguing analysis of Democratic president elect Barack Obama’s fundraising. It finds that claims the campaign was funded primarily through small donors more of a myth than a reality.


The nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute has released a new analysis showing that Democrat president elect Barack Obama’s claims of running a campaign primarily supported by so-called “small donors” is greatly exaggerated.

In the analysis, the Campaign Finance Institute finds that while a high percentage (49%) of Obama’s contributions were $200 or less, only 26% of his donors were so-called “small donors,” a number that is barely higher than President George W. Bush’s percentage of small donors in 2004.

To be sure, Obama reached more small donors than previous candidates and a larger percentage of his money came from small donors. However, big donors–those contributing over $1,000–were significant players in his fundraising efforts. 47% of his donors gave over $1,000, accounting for 33% of his fundraising totals. According to the Campaign Finance Institute:

“Much of this money was raised the “old fashioned” way. Since only about 13,000 of those who started out small for Obama ended up crossing the $1,000 threshold, that means the bulk of Obama’s $213 million in large-donor contributions during the primaries came from about 85,000 people who started out giving big and stayed there. Much of this large-donor money – perhaps close to a majority – came to the campaign through bundling methods initially perfected by Bush.”

Hopefully as the election hype winds down, a debate will occur about Obama’s fundraising and his decision to forgo public financing. Because while he did raise considerable money from small donors, it was hardly the popularly funded, “every person” campaign that it is often made out to be.

Statistics from the analysis:


Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org