July 08, 2008

Four myths of Obama campaign finance

Without in any way excusing John McCain’s apparent illegality in his “opt-in, opt-out” playing with the Federal Elections Commission, Andrew Romano punctures four myths of Barack Obama’s fundraising, the first of which, at least, has been blindly accepted, even promulgated, by progressive Democratic talking points bloggers, Atrios the worst on this one.

That said, the four myths —the first and second linked, the third a surprise — are:
• Obama Opted Out of Public Financing for Reasons of Principle;
• Obama Gets All — or Even the Vast Majority — of His Money from Small Donors;
• The Share of Obama’s Money That Comes from Small Donors is Completely Unprecedented;
• Obama Won't Receive Any Help from Outside Groups.

I’ve already blogged about the first, and touched on the second. The third interests me more, being a new talking point.

Romano has details. Yes, Obama has gotten a higher percentage of money from small donors than previous candidates. But, Romano questions the “unprecedented” idea.

He notes that while 45 percent of his money (so far) comes from donations of less than $200, Kerry hit 37 percent back in 2004. And, Romano doesn’t note if Kerry’s percentage was as of the same time of year as Obama’s, or was as of November.

As Obama attends more high-roller events, his 45 percent will likely decline, too.

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