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State-by-State Fundraising Numbers

One of the metrics we use in our regression analysis is the state-by-state fundraising totals received by each of the three major candidates. These fundraising numbers turn out have a highly statistically significant relationship with their standing in the polls, even after accounting for things like the party identification in the state, and the Kerry-Bush voting tally in 2004.

The FEC has recently updated its website, including fresh fundraising data through 2/29/08. February was a huge fundraising month for both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton — less so for John McCain — so this gives us a better idea of where each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses lie.

The way I look at fundraising is in terms of dollars raised per 2004 general election voter. So in Missouri, for example, Obama has raised just over $1.3 million dollars, and whereas there were 2.7 voters in the 2004 general election. This works out to about 50¢ per voter (actually 49¢).

In the abstract, the fundraising numbers are very impressive for the Democrats. McCain has outfundraised Obama in only four states: Arizona, Michigan, Mississippi, and South Carolina. He’s outraised Clinton in each of those states, plus Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Wyoming, and North and South Dakota. However, it’s the relative numbers that count for purposes of our regression model. On that front, here are Obama’s Top 10 — and bottom 5 — fundraising states.

Barack Obama, Funds Raised per GE voter

1. Illinois $2.85
2. New York $2.24
3. California $2.15
4. Connecticut $2.07
5. Vermont $2.01
6. Massachusetts $1.83
7. Hawaii $1.65
8. Maryland $1.61
9. Virginia $1.38
10. Washington $1.38

46. Mississippi $0.19
47. Louisiana $0.16
48. West Virginia $0.14
49. Arkansas $0.14
50. North Dakota $0.14

No real surprises on the top of the list — these are mainline, Democratic states that also happen to be quite wealthy. The one exception is possibly Virginia, but Virginians tend to donate a lot of money to all Presidential candidates because of their connections with the Beltway. At the bottom of the list are several states from our Deep South region, plus North Dakota — where, even though Obama hasn’t raised very much money, he’s still raised more money than Clinton and McCain combined. North Dakotans just have better things to do than to part with their money for Presidential candidates, I guess.

Next, Hillary’s list:

Hillary Clinton, Funds Raised per GE voter

1. New York $3.77
2. California $1.88
3. Maryland $1.77
4. New Jersey $1.67
5. Connecticut $1.54
6. Rhode Island $1.35
7. Virginia $1.30
8. Arkansas $1.28
9. Massachusetts $1.10g
10. Florida $1.09

46. Wisconsin $0.16
47. Montana $0.11
48. South Dakota $0.10
49. Mississippi $0.09
50. North Dakota $0.06

Hillary’s fundraising prowess in New York is astounding — it’s as though every single voter in the state decided to pony up and buy her a Value Meal. That’s what happens when you combine a state that inherently should be kind to any Democrat with Manhattan money and being that state’s representative in the Senate. Also, her Florida numbers should be considered encouraging. The shocker is Wisconsin, which ranks at #46 on Hillary’s list. I don’t know what it is about Wisconsin. The money in the state, I guess, is in Madison, Milwaukee, and parts of the Fox River Valley. Madison is an Obama town, the Fox River Valley is sort of half-way between NASCAR and Country Club Republican, and perhaps the business elites in Milwaukee have a lot of ties to Chicago? Either way, it does not portend well for Hillary in Wisconsin, where her polling against McCain has been sluggish.

John McCain, Funds Raised per GE voter
1. Arizona $1.74
2. Virginia $0.96
3. Connecticut $0.95
4. New York $0.71
5. Texas $0.65
6. California $0.55
7. Florida $0.52
8. New Jersey $0.49
9. Nevada $0.49
10. South Carolina $0.48

46. Nebraska $0.10
47. Iowa $0.08
48. North Dakota $0.07
49. Kentucky $0.07
50. West Virginia $0.06

On John McCain’s list, we see perhaps more relationship with the states in which he ran an active primary campaign — South Carolina is 10th on his list (and New Hampshire is 11th), whereas voters in Iowa seem to have punished him for blowing off the state. Otherwise, we see a largely predictable list of states — and a reminder that there is plenty of money to go around in blue states like California and New York.

The complete list of numbers is below. I’ve presented them two ways: first, the basic funds-raised-per-voter calculation I described above, and second, on a relative basis, where 100 represents the average state for that candidate. Thus we see that, for example, while Obama has raised more funds in Alabama than John McCain, it’s relatively speaking a stronger state for McCain; Obama is so far ahead everywhere in the fundraising game that this will be the case any time McCain keeps it reasonably close.

A few thoughts on the above list:

Arkansas really seems to be almost punitive toward Obama — this has also held in the polling numbers.

It’s not clear that the lack of an officially-sanctioned primary has harmed the Democrats in Florida. Clinton’s numbers are pretty strong. Obama has raised slightly less than his state average, but the demographics in Florida aren’t great for him to begin with. In Michigan, on the other hand, there clearly seem to be some Democrats who are punishing their candidates for the lack of a competitive primary there. I don’t know how else to explain how McCain outfundrasies both candidates in a state that has voted Blue each year since 1992, when he’s otherwise been unable to outfundraise any Democrat, anywhere.

The Massachusetts numbers should be encouraging to Obama. Perhaps it’s a bunch of Harvard Law grads contributing their $2,300, but this fundraising is a big reason why our regression model just doesn’t buy that McCain can keep the state competitive against Obama, as some polls have suggested.

Everyone’s numbers are low in Ohio, which seems to be suffering from a combination of economic hardship and Swing State Fatigue.

Another state where I’d be encouraged by these numbers if I were Obama: Colorado. Another state where I’d be worried: New Jersey.

p.s. Swapping in these new fundraising numbers does have some slight effect on our overall analysis, so I’ve refreshed the charts and graphs.

Nate Silver founded and was the editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.