The myth of Obama's 'small donor base'

Conventional wisdom (fanned by Obama supporters in the press) says that Barack Obama's record haul of campaign contributions came from ordinary Americans giving small amounts of money to the cause.

That turns out to be a load of horse manure.

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.

But the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute just issued a detailed study of Obama's donor base and its giving. And that's what the Institute found, to its own surprise.

"The myth is that money from small donors dominated Barack Obama's finances," said CFI's executive director Michael Malbin, admitting that his organization also was fooled. "The reality of Obama's fundraising was impressive, but the reality does not match the myth."

Adding up the total contributions from the same small individuals (in terms of dollar amounts, not their height), the Institute discovered that rather than the 50+% commonly....

...reported throughout the campaign, only 26% of Obama's contributions through last August and only 24% through Oct. 15 came from people whose total donations added up to less than $200.

The reality is that Obama raised 80% more in large donations that George Bush in 2004.

CFI also reported:

After a more thorough analysis of data from the Federal Election Commission (FEC)," the CFI study says, "it has become clear that repeaters and large donors were even more important for Obama than we or other analysts had fully appreciated."

The press couldn't be bothered during the campaign with looking at these numbers - there for anyone with any curiosity at all to see. As with everything else about Obama, they simply accepted the candidate's word on it.

Andrew Malcolm at the LA Times blog writes "Now, we'll see how broad-based news coverage of this real reality is."

Don't hold your breath, Andy.