The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Barack Obama’s 475,000 Donors, and/or Purchasers


The Obama campaign sends along this message from campaign manager Jim Messina as the fundraising quarter ends:

In the first major test of this campaign, you delivered. More than 475,000 people decided to own a piece of this campaign in just our first quarter — a promising sign of what’s to come if we all stay focused and work together.We’ll be in touch with more information as we continue to crunch the numbers.

One wonders if they’re continuing their policy of counting any and all merchandise purchases as a donation to the campaign.

Last cycle, the Obama campaign is counted donorsdifferently from every other campaign:

Mr. Obama had said goodbye to a less exclusive crowd of 10,000 that had gathered to hear him speak across the bay in Oakland. They paid nothing to hear him, but spent $40,000 on Obama T-shirts, baseball caps, buttons and other knickknacks. And the Obama campaign registered each of the purchasers as one of the record 258,000 contributors it signed up in the first six months of the year…

But to capitalize on his celebrity, Mr. Obama’s campaign has also employed novel tactics — like counting sales of $5 speech tickets or $4.50 Obama key chains as individual contributions — to pump up his numbers and transform grass-roots enthusiasm into more useful forms of support. No other campaign is known to have listed paraphernalia sales as donations.

When this was reported in July 2007, I raised a question that was never well answered: If you donate the maximum $2,300, and then buy a key chain, have you donated more than the legal maximum?

Tags: Barack Obama


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