Internet Donors Fuel Obama - Word of Democrat Hillary Clinton's apparent financial problems struck many as a surprise yesterday. So what explains why her chief rival, Barack Obama, was able to vastly out-raise her in January?
One key lies in Clinton's comparative difficulty raising money over the Internet, from small donors, said Stephen Weissman of the Campaign Finance Institute.
Coming into January, many more of Clinton's donors had already reached the $2,300 limit for individual donations. A report just completed by the Campaign Finance Institute showed that Clinton raised more than half her money in 2007 from donors who gave the maximum allowed by law. Obama, in comparison, raised just one-third of his money from $2,300 donors.
"It means Senator Obama has the ability to keep going back to his donors, while she has a more difficult burden of having to seek out new donors," said Weissman, who is the institute's associate director for policy.
Clinton also had more trouble attracting support from small donors, many of whom gave over the Internet. While 47 percent of what Obama raised last year came from donors who gave less than $200, those small contributors made up just 15 percent of Clinton's donor base.
In January, when Obama swamped Clinton by raising $32 million, compared to her $13 million, the vast majority of his total -- $28 million -- came over the Internet.
There are a number of reasons Obama has had more success with Internet fundraising (just yesterday, he raised nearly $4 million online). One likely component was the endorsement of him by the 2004 Democratic nominee, Sen. John F. Kerry. Kerry made use of his extensive e-mail fundraising list to help raise money for Obama online. Another element may have been the endorsement supplied by MoveOn.org, which also put out a call for financial support on Obama's behalf.
This has all posed a challenge for Clinton's top volunteer fundraisers.
Suzy Tompkins Buell, a California bundler for Clinton, said yesterday that many of the donors she has contacted have already given the maximum allowed.
"The campaign has gone on much longer than any of us expected," Buell said. "I think now we are in the position of looking for the little checks. We're trying to find out how best to do that."
Washington Post, Thursday February 2, 2008