On April 21st, President Barack Obama, after being confronted by CNBC’s John Harwood with questions about big money Wall Street donors in the 2008 election proclaimed that, “The vast majority of the money I got was from small donors all across the country.” The statement was repeated over and over again during the election to give the impression that his candidacy was purely a grassroots affair but as it turns out, it was just another myth perpetuated by his campaign. From Politifact.com:
Campaign contributions are public record, so there’s verifiable data on how much political candidates receive and who gives it to them. Obama did raise a lot of money from small donations collected over the Internet, and several groups have analyzed the information to determine how much that was. While Obama got more money from small donors than his opponents, they did not account for the majority of his funds.
We’re setting the bar for a small donor as someone who gives $200 or less. The Federal Election Commission rules say that someone who gives this amount does not need to publicly disclose their name, address, occupation and employer.
In the general election, Obama got about 34 percent of his individual donations from small donors, people who gave $200 or less, according to a report from the Campaign Finance Institute. Another 23 percent of donations came from people who gave between $201 and $999, and another 42 percent from people who gave $1,000 or more.
This isn’t a new revelation though. USA Today had pointed this out in 2008, citing a study by the non-partisan Campaign Finance Institute:
“The myth is that money from small donors dominated Barack Obama’s finances,” said Michael Malbin, the institute’s executive director. “The reality of Obama’s fundraising was impressive, but the reality does not match the myth.”
About $156 million, or a quarter of Obama’s record-shattering campaign account, came from donors of $200 or less, according to the institute’s analysis of federal election reports through Oct. 15. That compares with $205 million, or about a third, from those who gave between $2,300 and $4,600, the maximum allowed by law.
Forty-eight percent of Obama’s total take came from donors of $1,000 or more, compared with 56% for John Kerry and 60% for both Bush and John McCain, the analysis found.
The same report was cited by the LA Times:
Everybody knows how President-elect Barack Obama’s amazing campaign money machine was dominated by several million regular folks sending in hard-earned amounts under $200, a real sign of his broadbased grassroots support.
Except, it turns out, that’s not really true.
In fact, Obama’s base of small donors was almost exactly the same percent as George W. Bush’s in 2004 — Obama had 26% and the great Republican satan 25%. Obviously, this is unacceptable to current popular thinking.
And, to my surprise, The New York Times:
A new analysis of President-elect Barack Obama’s campaign fund-raising punctures one of the most enduring pieces of conventional wisdom from his presidential run — that small donors powered his record-breaking money machine.
The study, released today by the Campaign Finance Institute, a non-partisan group, goes deeper than previous analyses of Mr. Obama’s fund-raising in examining donors who made discrete contributions of $200 or less, and found many of them donated repeatedly to exceed that amount.
The institute found that while nearly 50 percent of Mr. Obama’s donations came in individual contributions of $200 or less, in reality, only 26 percent of the money he collected through Aug. 31 during the primary and 24 percent of his money through Oct. 15 came from contributors whose total donations added up to $200 or less. The data is the most recent available.
The Obama campaign worked to cultivate the small donor image during the campaign. This from a May 9th 2008 article by the Associated Press:
Ninety percent of his donors give $100 or less, and 41 percent have given $25 or less, according to the Obama campaign.
The Obama Campaign, just 6 months before a study confirmed that less than 50% of his donations were from doners who donated less than $200, was saying that a full 90% of donors were giving $100 or less. So yes, big money dominated the campaign coffers of Captain Hope-n-Change but he seems more than willing to lie about it in order to keep the narrative going.
Update: Welcome Hot Air readers!