If there was any doubt that the 2008 battle for the White House would set spending records, consider this from a new analysis released this afternoon by the Campaign Finance Institute: With nearly seven months to go before voters decide who will be the next president, the three remaining candidates have raised more money—$482 million—than was raised by all presidential candidates during the entire 2004 campaign season.
Democratic Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and Republican Sen. John McCain have already spent more than $422,450,000 on their campaigns. That's only about $17,000 less than the $439,760,884 that was spent by all candidates in the entire 2004 presidential season.
And despite the hype this season about small donations —those of $200 or less—flooding candidates' coffers, the survey says: Overall, not so much. Though Democrat Barack Obama has raised more from small donations than large—$101 million to $83 million, the bottom line is that this campaign has shown "only an incremental, though significant change in the overall balance between small and large donations." That seems largely due to Obama's fellow Dem Hillary Clinton, who has collected $82 million in large and $44 million in small donations; and GOP candidate John McCain, who has raised $45 million in large and $16 million in small donations.
In the 2004 presidential cycle, 27 percent of money the candidates raised came from small donations and 51 percent from donations of $1,000 or more. This cycle, small donations made up 34 percent of the total money raised and 51 percent from donations of $1,000 or more. The Dems have raised 37 percent of their primary contributions from small donations this year; 34 percent of GOP money from the same period came from small donations.
Though the Democrats' fundraising waned from February to March, the survey found that total presidential primary fundraising so far (including candidates who dropped out of the race) is a whopping $850 million—almost double the 2004 cycle and triple the $288 million raised by presidential candidates in the 2000 election cycle. The Campaign Finance Institute is a nonpartisan organization affiliated with George Washington University.