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The advantage of little bucks over big bucks

February 14, 2008 | 11:22 am

Our colleague Dan Morain has a nice piece today digging into the key difference between the Hillary Clinton fundraising juggernaut and the Barack Obama fundraising juggernaut. And in a twist on an old axiom, less is more.

The Obama campaign from the beginning has tried to make itself different from traditional campaigns, and in a way it has managed to revive the energy Howard Dean sparked four years ago within a structure equipped to do something with it. In this case: Raise money and keep people interested.

Morain has all the details in his story, but the key element is that in 2007 Obama raised $27.2 million in donations of less than $200 each, while Clinton raised $11.6 million in similar-sized donations. And Obama's donation base was nearly twice the size of Clinton's.

Flipping it around, half of Clinton's primary-cycle donors gave the maximum-allowed $2,300 while only a third of Obama's maxed out. That means Obama can try to draw more money from more donors who haven't hit the limit -- assuming his small donors have that kind of personal political budget.

But Eli Pariser, head of, focuses on a subtle but crucial aspect of Obama's successful grass-roots fundraising. "He has given people a real sense of ownership that makes them want to chip in," Pariser told Morain. And people who have invested in you tend to vote for you.

-- Scott Martelle