WASHINGTON — Barack Obama's presidential campaign raised $104 million in the weeks around Election Day, a grand finale to a successful bid that shattered fundraising records.
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Overall, Obama raised nearly $750 million during his odyssey to the presidency, according to reports being filed with the Federal Election Commission. The reporting period covered Oct. 15 to Nov. 24.
The campaign said more than 1 million contributors donated during the period, with more than half donating for the first time. Throughout the campaign, more than 3.95 million contributors gave to the eventual president-elect, his campaign said.
The Democrat's fundraising and his spending eclipsed that of his Republican rival, John McCain. Obama was the first presidential candidate since the campaign finance reforms of the 1970s to raise private donations during the general election. McCain opted to accept public financing. That limited him to $84 million to spend from the beginning of September.
By comparison, Obama spent $315 million since Sept. 1, a huge disparity that McCain tried to narrow by relying on millions of dollars worth of help from the Republican National Committee.
Obama's expenditures during the final period alone totaled more that $136 million. He ended with a cash balance of nearly $30 million. He still owed vendors nearly $600,000.
Obama's prowess at attracting money was one of his campaign's defining characteristics. What distinguished him from his successful predecessors was his ability to motivate donors to give repeatedly, said Michael Malbin, director of the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute, which studies money in politics.
"Obama persuaded an unusually large number of people to give more than once," Malbin said Thursday at an election law conference. The institute's research showed that 212,000 people were repeat givers who ended up giving a total of $200 or more, averaging $490 each. Obama had a total of 580,000 individual donors as of mid-October, the most recent data included in the study.
Overall, the institute found that Obama collected about 26 percent of his total haul from people who gave less than $200 — about the same as President George W. Bush did in his 2004 campaign, but less than Democrat Howard Dean's small-donor take of 38 percent in his unsuccessful primary bid that year.
And like other campaigns, Obama's relied for nearly half of its fundraising on big donors, those who gave $1,000 or more, a finding that "should make one think twice before describing small donors as the financial engine of the Obama campaign," the institute reported.
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