The official voting of the 2008 presidential race begins tonight at the Iowa Caucuses. And next Tuesday, New Hampshire voters will cast votes in the first primary of the election. Before casting a ballot I want to encourage everyone in all states to visit OpenSecrets.org, the website of our colleagues at the Center for Responsive Politics, the "follow the money" folks. CRP’s easily accessed Race for the White House database profiles the fund raising and spending of each candidate’s campaign. Unfortunately, because of filing rules, CRP only has data through September 30. Fund raising and spending reports for October through December are not due to the Federal Election Commission until the end of this month. Nevertheless, the data CRP has shows the important early period where the various candidates’ strengths and weaknesses is gauged largely by the amount of money raised.
CRP breaks down the data to reveal each candidate’s contributors by state, metropolitan area and zip code; contribution size; gender and industry the donor is associated with. You can even look up individual donors by candidate, industry or ZIP code. "Before you vote, count the candidates’ cash," CRP Executive Director Sheila Krumholz advises Iowa and New Hampshire residents, as well as those in later-voting states. "Just as it’s important to know the candidates, it’s important to know who got them this far and might hold sway with them in the White House," Sheila adds.
Even though we won’t know the details for another three-and-a-half weeks, many of the candidates are telling how much their respective campaigns raised in the final quarter. CRP reports that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are both saying they’ve raised more than $100 million in 2007, which means they both collected $20 million over the past three months, with John Edwards raising between $4 and $5 million over the same quarter. It’s believed that Republican Ron Paul has led the way for the GOP raising the most in the past quarter, mainly over the Internet. Mitt Romney is expected to report collecting between $6 million and $10 million over the past three months, and Mike Huckabee is expected to report raising $5 million, according to CRP.