Got Milk? Candidates Want Your Money

Michael Bitzer

If the old saying that money is the mother’s milk of politics is true, then we should see millions of cows getting udderly squeezed by both parties in this year’s campaign.

In 2008, over $1.6 billion was raised by all presidential candidates, according to the Federal Election Commission.  Out of that $1.6 billion, 44 percent — or $747 million — was raised by Barack Obama.  To put it into comparison, Obama outraised all of the GOP presidential candidates in the 2008 election cycle combined.

In 2008, North Carolina donors contributed $18.2 million. Again, Obama raised more than all of the GOP presidential candidates put together: $8.6 million to $5.1 million. 

So where do things currently stand among the candidates?  The FEC released it latest reports recently, and here are some of the numbers from what North Carolinians donated in 2011 for both Obama and the GOP field.

North Carolinians contributed a total of $2.3 million last year to all candidates vying for the White House.

On the Republican side, Mitt Romney led the pack with total contribution of a little over $352,000, or 30 percent of all the money contributed to the Republican field by North Carolinians.

Ron Paul, the Republican candidate who truly stirs the passions of his followers, came in second with $284,000, or 24 percent of the total field’s take from North Carolina. In third place was Herman Cain, pulling in nearly $166,000, followed by Newt Gingrich at $148,000.

All told, North Carolinians contributed $1.156 million to various GOP presidential candidates.

In comparison, the Obama campaign received $1.143 million, or a little under $13,000 less than all the Republicans combined.  The 5,633 donations to the president’s election campaign were an average of $200; of those donations, 5,310 donations were less than $1,000.

So what difference does it make that Obama’s donations were typically about $200?  Well, the campaign contribution limit this year is $2,500 per election per candidate, so a donor could make a contribution of $5,000 to one candidate for both a primary and general election.  The Obama campaign’s strategy has always been to focus on smaller donations, with the hope to get folks to contribute repeatedly that small amount until they get to the contribution limit. 

When looking at Obama’s donor base, it’s not surprising that the major metro regions make up significant portions of his contributions.  Those donors listing Charlotte as their home city made up 549 of the total donations, totaling $101,600.  From Raleigh, the president got $144,386 from 558 donations, while Durham contributed $153,967 from 655 donations.

Charlotte contributed over $228,000 to all the Republican candidates, with Raleigh chipping in over $126,000.

Many will bemoan the fact that so much money goes into this year’s campaigns. Conservative estimates about how much money will be raised — just at the presidential level, not including Congressional races or state-level races — will most likely blow past the $1.6 billion raised just four years ago.

But consider this: Americans spent $13 billion in 2010 just on snack foods ($4.8 billion on potato chips alone). So there’s an easy question to ask when it comes to political campaign donations. Got milk?

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