Obama’s repeat and drop off $200+ donors plotted based on ideology. Negative values indicate liberals and positive values indicate conservatives. (Courtesy of Adam Bonica)
The 2008 donors who haven’t returned to President Obama are disproportionately centrists and very liberal Democrats, while regular Democrats have stuck by the president, according to a new analysis of campaign finance data.
The analysis, by Stanford political scientist Adam Bonica, matches and deepens a BuzzFeed finding that roughly 90% of those who gave more than $200 to Obama haven’t returned, a mark of the disillusionment among some of his early supporters and of his ongoing struggle — despite the advantages of organization and incumbency — to keep even with his 2008 fundraising totals.
“The 2008 donors who were most likely to give again in 2012 are those with ideological scores most similar to Obama’s, whereas moderate-to-conservative donors and those on far left are significantly less likely to re-up,” Bonica said.
Bonica’s model is based on a large swathe of publicly available campaign finance data. He examined all of Obama’s $200-plus individual donors from 2008 and 2012, as reported to the Federal Election Commission. He then gave each contributor an ideological “score” based on his or her past political donations, with -2 being the most liberal and 2 being the most conservative. Once each of Obama’s contributors had an ideological score, Bonica divided them into new, returning, and drop off donors before plotting them on comparative ideological graphs.
The story of Obama’s failure to impress the ideological progressives who had hoped he’d pass single-payer health care and battle Republicans, is a familiar story. But Bonica’s research suggests the degree to which conservative criticism has also eaten into Obama’s core support, leaving the president fighting a two-front battle.
Bonica said he was surprised by the finding.
“Initially my expectation was that Obama’s donors were going to be more moderate in 2012 than they were in 2008,” Bonica said.
But the collapse onon both sides of the ideological spectrum makes sense, Bonica said, when thought of in the context of a candidate whose political record was as sparse as Obama’s was when he ran in 2008.
“Donors have had several years to learn about Obama’s policy preferences through his initiatives and statements, which has eliminated a lot of the uncertainty about where Obama stands,” he said, adding that Obama’s current donor drop off pattern is similar to that of George W. Bush in 2004.
Only 11% of these drop off donors have given to another political group or candidate this cycle. This low percentage suggests that Obama’s drop off donors from 2008 aren’t so much switching allegiances as they are removing themselves from the political process.
“Obama’s drop off looks to be more dramatic than other presidents, but that’s mostly a function of him having raised from an incredible number of people in 2008 — people who you usually wouldn’t have expected to give to a Democratic presidential candidate,” Bonica said.
Obama’s repeat $200+ and new 2012 $200+ donors plotted based on ideology. Negative values indicate liberals and positive values indicate conservatives. (Courtesy of Adam Bonica)
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What a crock of BS. There ARE no ‘right’ Democrats anymore, or not enough to justify any significant statistical impact. ‘Center’ and ‘left’ Democrats are ALL there are, so you can accurately assume this is an ACROSS THE BOARD fall off of Democrat support for Obama. Not complicated, and to be expected. People fell for the snake oil, and the younger they are, the harder they fell. Sorry to see the disillusionment, that’s never desired - but considering the damage Obama has done on their vote I don’t have much sympathy. Get it right this time please?
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Wow. The method this analyst used to obtain his sample (by looking at previous campaign donations in order to determine the contributors’ ideological leanings) is highly questionable. And frankly, it calls into question the value of any of his conclusions. Further, the analyst’s sample is potentially skewed because he doesn’t take into the account the potential effects of the Obama campaign’s fund-raising strategy, which is to aggressively target very small amount donors. According to this article, as of April 30, 43% of the Obama campaign’s funds raised were from donors of $200 or less. Bonica’s analysis samples donors of $200 or more. Also, Bonica appears to be comparing fundraising for all of 2008 to 2012 data, which is, of course, incomplete. If Bonica is comparing only the months through March or April in 2008 to the currently available data for the 2012 election cycle, the quality of his data would be improved; however, the Buzzfeed author does not provide clarifying information in her article, nor does she provide a link to the original study so that the reader can check the source to clarify. This looks like a pretty sloppy article about a sloppily constructed analysis.
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He was the first candidate I ever donated money to, because he talked about hope and change. Then, he lashed out at progressives and “professional liberals” and behaved like Bush. Worse even. We would not tolerate that behavior from Nixon. Let him find his own dollars. I hear Wall Street and the big banks get fat bonuses.