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Average Campaign Contributions


Q: What is the average size of Obama’s contributions and what is the average size of McCain’s contributions?

A: We can’t calculate a precise average for either candidate, but we can say that persons giving less than $200 account for 47 percent of Obama’s donations and 26 percent of McCain’s.

FULL QUESTION

What is the average size of Obama’s contributions and what is the average size of McCain’s contributions?

FULL ANSWER

As of July 14, Obama’s campaign has raised a total of $287,397,945, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research group that keeps track of money in U.S. politics. McCain’s campaign has raised a total of $119,594,596.

Where Does the Money Come From?

 
The vast majority of the funds raised by the two campaigns has come from individual donors. The 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act and Federal Election Commission rules limit individual contributions to a maximum of $2,300 per candidate, per election for 2007-2008. The primary election and general election are considered to be two separate elections, which means an individual can donate up to $4,600 to a single candidate (half of that to the primary election and half to the general).
 
Individual contributions make up 88 percent of the total amount raised by the McCain campaign and 100 percent of the money raised by the Obama campaign.
 

The CRP says the rest of McCain’s money has come from political action committees (just 1 percent of his donations) and from "other" sources, which include interest from campaign bank accounts and loans from outside sources (11 percent). McCain’s "other" sources also include funds transferred from his Senate bank account, according to Massie Ritsch, communications director for the CRP. Obama has also received a small amount of money from "other" sources, though not enough to account for even 1 percent of his donations.

 

What’s a Typical Donation?

For Obama, 47 percent of money raised has come from individuals who have donated $200 or less, while 27 percent has come from persons who have donated $2,300 or more.

For McCain, the numbers are nearly the opposite, with 26 percent of donations coming from people who have donated $200 or less and 49 percent from individuals who have donated $2,300 or more.

The CRP also classifies the donors, including individual donors, by industry or occupation. Lawyers and law firms have been the industry most generous to Obama, contributing more than $18 million to his campaign. Retirees have given the most to McCain, donating more than $15 million. In terms of gender, men make up the majority of donors to both campaigns, but the percentage of Obama’s funds that comes from women, 41.8 percent, is higher than that of McCain, 28.3 percent.

Many of the numbers cited in this article will change, as the FEC updates its reports throughout the campaign.

–by Rachel Weisel

Sources

Banking on Becoming President.” Center for Responsive Politics Web site, accessed 10 July 2008.

Donor Demographics: Contribution Size.” Center for Responsive Politics Web site,  accessed 10 July 2008.

Donor Demographics: Gender.” Center for Responsive Politics Web site,  accessed 10 July 2008.

Luo, Michael and Jeff Zeleny. “Obama, in Shift, Says He’ll Reject Public Financing.” The New York Times, 20 June 2008.

Summary for Presidential Candidate John McCain. Center for Responsive Politics Web site, accessed 27 June 2008.

Summary for Presidential Candidate Barack Obama. Center for Responsive Politics Web site, accessed 27 June 2008.