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Presidential campaign contributions, Virginia edition

The Federal Election Commission has been working to make the data from their campaign finance disclosures more accessible. For fun, I downloaded the file containing individual contributions to the presidential campaigns from Virginia and put together a quick table.


Presidential Campaign Contributions from Virginia, January 2011 through January 2012
Obama, Barack10,500$2,569,326$245
Romney, Mitt2,422$2,319,343$958
Paul, Ron2,756$472,389$171
Gingrich, Newt846$378,169$447
Perry, Rick218$241,671$1,109
Cain, Herman597$192,894$323
Santorum, Rick470$178,132$379
Pawlenty, Timothy172$140,149$815
Huntsman, Jon185$115,864$626
Bachmann, Michelle383$73,384$192
Roemer, Charles E. ‘Buddy’ III169$10,203$60
Johnson, Gary Earl19$9,276$488
McCotter, Thaddeus G1$250$250
Downloaded from

Obama has four times the number of contributors as does Romney (and more donors than the other candidates combined), and among the smallest average contribution size (certainly the smallest among any of ever-seriously-considered candidates).  The large number of small contributions adds up: Obama also has the biggest total contributions from Virginia so far.

Once the general election gets under way, and Republican donors coalesce around a single candidate, this small advantage in total contributions is likely to disappear. After all, in the 2008 campaign, Obama received a total of $18,392,151 from Virginians to McCain’s $21,350,069. Obama’s advantage in the number of donors, though, is probably safe. In 2008, 93,246 Virginians opened their pocketbooks to Obama (for an average donation size of $197), more than four times the number who gave to McCain (22,890, for an average donation size of $933).

Where are the donors? The individual contribution file provides the zip code for each donor who gave $200 or more. I summed up the number of contributors to Obama and the number of contributors to any of the Republican candidates by zip code and mapped the difference (Republican contributors – Democratic contributors).


Blue means a zip code had at least 20 more Democratic contributors than Republican contributors, red means a zip code had at least 20 more Republican contributors than Democratic contributors, light purple means the difference was between -19 and +19, or pretty balanced, and grey means there are no contribution records for that area.

Pockets of Republican or Democratic donors are visible (like those red zip codes in Fauquier and Powhatan and those blue zip codes in Albemarle and Henrico), but in most of the zip codes in the state, contributions are relatively even or nonexistent.