Democrats’ campaign finance figures and "Closing the Gap"

The paperwork for Presidential candidates’ financing is has a third quarter deadline of October 15, so now we have a clearer view of how the candidates are doing financially and how they got there.

I’ve compiled a chart of donations to each of the candidates, categorized by the size of the donation, using the data from the New York Times Election Guide 08 Finances section:

An interesting outlier can be found in Barack Obama’s campaign funds.  While he has a large pool of big donations (those over $200), he has the largest amount of small donations by far, and among the viable candidates (I’m counting all except Kucinich and Gravel as viable), he is the only one whose under $200 donation figure exceeds the figure from maximum donations ($2,300).

This of course stands in stark contrast to his main rival, Hillary Clinton, who while raising a similar amount of total primary funds has significantly more maxed-out donations and less than a third as many receipts from donations under $200.

This plays into the hands of Obama and Edwards who have both made campaign pledges to reject donations from federally registered lobbyists and political action committees, because they can now cast Clinton’s funds as being “dirty”, tainted by their sources.

The Obama campaign actually ceased upon this outright, by promoting a “Close the Gap” fund raising drive to make up for the difference in their cash-on-hand figures, which they have put front and center on their website with the following graphic, which they update every few seconds (this version is static):

As well, Sam Graham-Felson, one of the Obama campaign’s chief bloggers posted this letter to him from Senator Obama playing on this theme:

Dear Sam,

Last night each of the presidential campaigns reported their third-quarter fundraising numbers.

The results are clear. We continue to build the largest grassroots movement in history, but Washington lobbyists and special interests rallied to help Hillary Clinton out-raise us for the first time.

If we want real change in this country, then we need to prove that together we are stronger than the lobbyist-driven money machine that has dominated Washington for too long.

The situation here is simple. We are $2.1 million behind. We must close that gap right now. I need you to make a donation:

Hillary Clinton aggressively seeks money from Washington lobbyists and special interest PACs. She’s even said that these lobbyists represent real Americans.

She’s wrong.

I think it’s time to turn the page on that kind of politics, and that’s why I have not accepted a dime from Washington lobbyists and special interest PACs in this race. We rely on a network of more than 350,000 ordinary people to make us competitive — more supporters than all the other Democratic candidates combined.

Washington lobbyists have chosen their candidate and are determined to provide her with an overwhelming advantage. But you can even up this contest.

In the face of the most entrenched political machine in Democratic politics, I believe a movement of ordinary Americans can change our country. And you can prove that right now.

I need you to make a donation to close the gap:


Through the link, there is a video that is similar, though it simply refers to “candidates” that are taking money from PACs and Washington lobbyists, though Hillary Clinton is the only one of those candidates with numbers that are similar to those of Obama.

It is interesting to watch the campaign use very different tactics here at the beginning of the fourth quarter than it was up until now.  While I personally like that Senator Obama’s new push to show differences between himself and Senator Clinton, I wonder if it will be a shock to the system for some.  This campaign push is very audacious in that it plays off of a weakness and makes a sharp attack on Senator Clinton’s fund raising.

It should be interesting to see the outcome of this new fund raising initiative.


About Meng Bomin

Real name Benjamin Main, I am a graduate of Grinnell College with a degree in Biological Chemistry.
This entry was posted in Current events, Opinions, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

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