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Saturday, November 29, 2008

REALITY CHECK: Obama Received About the Same Percentage from Small Donors in 2008 as Bush in 2004

Much has been made by me – and others – about Obama’s internet fund raising efforts. We find it particularly suspicious that the Obama campaign disabled credit card identity checks, making it possible for non-citizens and fictitious persons to make contributions. If the Obama campaign is to be believed, contributions for people who gave less than $200 totaled over $125 million (26% of the $600 million raised).

But according to The Campaign Finance Institute, an affiliate of George Washington University, the “small” contributions raised were comparable – in percentages, if not amounts – to those raised by George W. Bush during his run against John Kerry.

The difference appears to be that the Obama campaign reports that many of the people who contributed $200 or less, did so multiple times, taking their total contributions to over $200 and making their contributions eligible for public disclosure.

It turns out that Barack Obama's donors may not have been quite as different as we had thought. Throughout the election season, this organization and others have been reporting that Obama received about half of his discrete contributions in amounts of $200 or less. The Campaign Finance Institute (CFI) noted in past releases that donations are not the same as donors, since many people give more than once. After a more thorough analysis of data from the Federal Election Commission (FEC), it has become clear that repeaters and large donors were even more important for Obama than we or other analysts had fully appreciated.

Obama also raised 80% more from large donors than small, outstripping all rivals and predecessors

Please note that I am rounding the numbers up because Obama raised about $150 million in September alone; the CFI report ends in August.

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