The Small Dollar Campaign Money Gulf

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Everyone tracks the presidential candidates campaign finance reports, but only rarely do we look behind the totals. On Friday, the Campaign Finance Institute put out a stark analysis of presidential fundraising so far this cycle. Some of the highlights, or lowlights, depending on your party affiliation:

1. As we know, Democrats are raising far more money than Republicans. Through the end of February, Barack Obama had $197.3 million in total receipts. Hillary Clinton had $173. 9 million. John McCain had $66.4 million. The biggest Republican money raiser, Mitt Romney, still trailed the Democrats, raising $111 million.

2. More important than the total numbers are the donor stats. 41 percent of Obama’s money came from contributors who gave $200 or less. 26 percent of Clinton’s money came from the same category of low-dollar contributors. McCain got just 13 percent of his money from the low-dollar crowd. The good thing about low-dollar givers is that they can give again and again, without reaching the contribution limits.

3. By contrast, wealthy donors max out early on the limits. This is a more problematic for McCain, because 43 percent of his money came from donors who have given his campaign at least $2,300. By contrast, Obama took just 23 percent of his money from high-end donors. Clinton, looking far more like McCain, has taken 38 percent from that crowd. (Donors can give a total of $4,600 by maxing out donations for the primary and the general campaign.)

The conclusion: McCain’s finance staff has its work cut out for it.