Where the GOP 2012 Candidates' Money Comes From, What it Means

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Saying you like a candidate is one level of support. Putting a sign in your yard is a bit more. But when your support turns into dollars, ah, there's the real vote of confidence.

So with the almighty dollar as a guide, what do the various bases of the top Republican contenders look like? Let's take a look at the financials of the top finishers in Iowa's straw poll.

Sorting through the second quarter individual donations in for the top declared presidential candidates, Patchwork Nation is beginning to get a sense of the contours of Romney Country, Bachmann Land and Paul-topia. (Texas Gov. Rick Perry had not yet declared by this filing, so there was no national contributor base to check.)

Individual contributions are only one way of giving, of course. Last year's Supreme Court ruling on campaign donations opened the door to unlimited giving to political actions committees. But individual gifts remain a measure of voter support for particular candidates.

Candidate Fundraising by Community Type (itemized donations)
Note: figures rounded to nearest $100

Community Type Bachmann Paul Romney
Monied 'Burbs $163,600 $623,600 $6.5 million
Minority Central $10,700 $67,000 $140,800
Evangelical Epicenters $12,500 $67,400 $50,300
Tractor Country $3,200 $29,000 $23,600
Campus and Careers $25,900 $113,600 $840,400
Immigration Nation $26,600 $116,200 $572,200
Industrial Metropolis $78,900 $354,500 $4.6 million
Boom Towns $151,500 $531,800 $2.9 million
Service Center $37,400 $165,400 $215,400
Empty Nests $19,800 $79,700 $315,500
Military Bastions $14,900 $67,700 $150,000
Mormon Outposts $250 $16,600 $654,700
Nationwide $545,300 $2.2 million $17 million

Source: Analysis of Federal Election Commission data

There is a bit of overlap - contributions always follow wealth and some of Patchwork Nation 12 county types are better off than others - but look closely and some trends begin to emerge. Later in the week, we'll do a comparison with President Obama's financial numbers, but we now look at the Republicans in comparison to each other.

Romney Country

Going by sheer dollars, former Gov. Mitt Romney crushed his competitors in the second quarter - about $18 million versus $4.5 million for his nearest challenger. Romney has held a consistent lead over his opponent in donations and the quarterly numbers are no different. But a few things stand out about what communities are giving to him. Take a look at the map below and you'll see the darkest greens packed around the biggest metro areas.

Of all the Republican candidates, Romney seems to be the choice of urban/suburban America - or at least of givers there. More than 60 percent of his contributions came from the wealthy, educated Monied Burbs and the big city Industrial Metropolis counties. In fact, Romney did quite well in the Industrial Metros - 27 percent of his money comes those counties. (Click the bars on the above chart to see the percentages for all the candidates).

Those are good places to have a fundraising base for any politician since those two county types are the richest in Patchwork Nation. They are also, however, not particularly strong bases of Republican votes and as the 2012 primary season draws closer that is worth noting. Romney may be able to get his dollars from there, but he may need to get his votes from somewhere else.

One primary season positive for him though, the first primary state, New Hampshire has a lot of dark green in it. There are a few reasons for that. Romney was governor of neighboring Massachusetts. And New Hampshire also has a lot of Monied Burbs, four out of its 10 counties and the most densely populated ones.

And, no surprise, he does very well in the Mormon Outpost counties, which make up about 4 percent of his total.


Rep. Ron Paul might look at his map of donations and argue it's not the shade of green that matters, but rather how much green there is overall. His donation "base of support" is wider than Romney's -- more evenly spread out across Patchwork Nation's 12 county types. (And that's not including the $2.2 million in donations that were "unitemized" and could be anywhere.)

Paul's base was the Monied Burbs and the Boom Towns, again, these are two of the wealthier county types in Patchwork Nation. But he also drew larger percentages of his money from the socially conservative Evangelical Epicenters, the small-town Service Worker Centers and the Military Bastions than Romney did. Those county types all lean fairly heavily to the right politically.

And it's not just about percentages, in some of the more politically conservative county types, Paul raised more money in actual dollars than Romney -- a considerable feat considering that Romney outraised Paul overall by a margin of about 4-to-1. Paul raised more money in actual dollars than Romney in the Evangelical Epicenters and the rural, agricultural Tractor Country counties.

The fact that Paul outraised Romney in those places may speak to Paul's strength in those less metropolitan areas, or Romney's weakness in them or both. Regardless, it is significant because those two county types hold some of the most committed Republican voters.

Bachmann Land

If Patchwork Nation were grading the Republican candidates listed here by donation amounts, Rep. Michele Bachmann would receive an incomplete. In the second quarter she received some $1.6 million in contributions, but only a third of those receipts were itemized -- larger donations listed with names and occupations attached to them. The rest, about $1 million, were small un-itemized donors. So it is hard to get a grasp of her real donation base in Patchwork Nation's county types.

But, looking at the numbers we do have, some trends crop up. A larger percentage of her money came from Boom Town counties than either Romney or Paul. Why is that significant? As we have noted in more in-depth reportage, those Boom Town counties were hit hard in the housing crunch and seem to be a big base of support for the Tea Party movement.

Look on the map below and you'll notice one of her darkest-green areas is Clark County, Nev., a Boom Town that has been decimated by the troubles in the housing industry and a hotbed of Tea Party activism.

In fact, Bachmann raised more from Clark County than from any county in the second quarter. Her haul there is even more than she received from any of the counties in her home district in Minnesota.

Of course, of all the numbers here, Bachmann's may mean the least considering the huge number of donations without a zip code attached to them. Her map and base may actually look a lot more like Paul's or even Romney's. But her support in the Boom Towns show she may be well-positioned to capture the anti-Washington sentiment that powered the 2010 electorate -- though new candidate Perry may have something to say about that in the next set of FEC filings.

For now though, the data suggest Romney holds the money advantage in the metro areas, Paul's strength is more spread around and Bachmann's is somewhat unknown.

Later in the week, we'll look how the three candidates compare again President Obama's quarterly report on financial support.


These candidates are acting

These candidates are acting like they're making money online. I was really wondering where this amount of cash comes from. Frankly, I would prefer to see results, like a parent waiting to see his offspring getting a job, after he supported him through college.