Campaign money doesn’t guarantee victory in elections, but campaigns can’t win without it. More importantly, candidates’ fundraising can give you big clues into who is supporting them. We built The Post’s new Campaign Finance Explorer to make it easier for you to examine the finances of the top 10 presidential candidates and draw your own conclusions.
The first chart shows the total amount raised and spent by the campaigns as well as the amount of money they have left in the bank. The comparison below shows that although former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has raised nearly twice as much money as Texas Gov. Rick Perry, both campaigns had the same amount of money in the bank Sept. 30.
The quarter-by-quarter breakdown allows you to see how the campaigns’ finances have changed over time. Most candidates burn rates (the ratio of expenses to fundraising) increased during the third quarter as they built operations in early states and fought it out in straw polls. The chart below clearly shows that Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann’s campaign spent more money than it took in during the third quarter (not a sign of great financial stewardship this early in the race).
The maps show you where candidates are getting their money. Many first-time presidential candidates draw on their home states as they start to build a nationwide donor network, and this year’s candidates are no exception. The map for Rick Perry shows his campaign raised over half its contributions from his native Texas while Cain has gotten more from his home state of Georgia than anywhere else.
The sizes of donations to candidates give a good indication of the means of their donors. The starkest contrast is between Bachmann and Perry. Perry got $13.5 million from people giving the legal maximum of $2,500 or more — nearly all of his money. Bachmann on the other hand has thousands of supporters who are giving small amounts of money.
President Obama has taken a dual-track strategy, tapping very large and very small contributors. Through a fundraising agreement with the Democratic National Committee, Obama is asking supporters to give more than $65,000 over the length of the campaign, making him the only candidate with contributions in the fifth category of more than $5,000. At the same time, he’s getting even more money from his large network of small-dollar donors, which the campaign says now number more than 1 million.