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Small donors played comparable roles in Obama and Bush campaigns

By Laurie Bennett

November 30, 2008 at 7:28am

The Obama organization has repeatedly attributed its record-setting financial success to the thousands of ordinary people who sent in small contributions.

Yet a new study by the Campaign Finance Institute shows that Barack Obama received about the same percentage from small donors in 2008 as George W. Bush did in 2004.

The institute, a nonprofit research organization affiliated with George Washington University, found that nearly half of Barack Obama’s donations arrived in amounts of $200 or less. However, only 26% of his total campaign chest (through Aug. 31) came from donors who gave $200 or less. In other words, most people made multiple contributions totalling more than $200.

The numbers are in keeping with previous campaigns. Here are the comparable percentages of money from small donors in recent presidential campaigns, according to the study:

  • Barack Obama - 26%
  • John McCain - 21%
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton - 13%
  • George W. Bush (2004) - 25%
  • John Kerry - 24%

Most of Obama’s funds came from big donors “about 85,000 people who started out giving big and stayed there,” the institute reported.

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