California Money Race

Following The Money Behind Presidential Candidates

The polls are neck and neck in the presidential campaign, as the candidates get ready to debate. But the money race is a whole different story, with one candidate claiming a landslide victory, so far, in California. Investigative reporter Joel Grover follows the money to reveal who's bankrolling this year's campaigns.

California is often called the ATM of national politics, because we generate more money than any other state to national campaigns. This year is no exception.

We've been examining 18 months of federal election records and the big story that emerges from our state: Sen. Barack Obama has raised more than $45 million here, more than double what Sen. John McCain has raised.

"There is a rock star quality that you didn't see with other Democratic nominees, going back to Bill Clinton," says Hal Dash, a political consultant.

So who are the big money donors to Obama? A lot of executives from Silicon Valley. Companies, like Google and Yahoo.

In Southern California, Obama's the clear favorite of the entertainment industry, who typically give to Democrats. Including people like Tom Hanks, Ben Affleck and DreamWorks executive Jeffrey Katzenberg.

"I've met so many politicians over the years, and I think (Obama is) different," Katzenberg tells NBC Los Angeles.

McCain appears to be the favorite for big business people. The chairman of The Irvine Company, Donald Bren, and car dealership owner Fletcher Jones, have both given McCain the maximum contributions.

So has Rod Campbell, the owner of a small business from Santa Monica.

"I believe in his positions more. I'm nervous about Obama being too far left," Campbell tells NBC Los Angeles.

But when we examined donations by ZIP code, we found one possible reason why Obama is so far ahead in the money race.

In Democratic strongholds, such as Brentwood, Obama has raised nearly three times what McCain has raised. In Beverly Hills 90210, Obama has picked up nearly twice the number of donations.

But the big news is that even in some traditionally Republican areas, such as La Jolla, Obama has raised twice the amount as the McCain campaign.

"The independents, the decline-to-states, the non-affiliated and liberal and moderate Republicans are giving money (to Obama)," says Hal Dash.

Even McCain donor Rod Campbell told Grover he'd consider voting for Obama.

"I'm not ready to make a final decision today," Campbell said.

When asked why, Campbell replied, "I'm attracted to Obama as a candidate. I like the idea of a black president. I think it's a great image for our country."

The only sure thing about all the money raised in California, according to experts, is that most of it won't be spent in California. With Obama so far ahead in the polls here, both campaigns will use their California cash on TV ads in battleground states, such as Ohio and Pennsylvania.

California Fundraising

(Source: Federal Election Commission - individual donations through 7/31/08) 

Barack Obama  $         45,394,563
John McCain  $         21,345,660

Top ZIP Codes Donating to Obama Campaign

90049 Brentwood  $       1,139,845
90210 Beverly Hills  $       1,068,969
94301 Palo Alto  $          737,828
94118 San Francisco  $          732,241
94025 Menlo Park  $          731,333
94611 Oakland  $          697,211
92037 La Jolla  $          690,914
94123 San Francisco  $          677,579
90402 Santa Monica  $          648,653
94941 Mill Valley  $          628,538
90024 Los Angeles  $          578,755
90272 Pacific Palisades  $          566,975
94705 Berkeley  $          552,824
94115 San Francisco  $          549,900
94010 Burlingame  $          536,456
90067 Century City  $          527,215
94027 Atherton  $          519,381
94114 San Francisco  $          519,162
90212 Beverly Hills  $          467,998
94920 Belvedere Tiburon  $          466,859

Top ZIP Codes Donating to McCain Campaign

92660 Newport Beach  $824,271
90210 Beverly Hills  $651,605
92067 Rancho Santa Fe  $408,808
90049 Brentwood  $385,760
90266 Manhattan Beach  $309,750
90077 Los Angeles  $287,200
92037 La Jolla  $284,596
90272 Pacific Palisades  $284,275
94010 Burlingame  $247,691
92625 Corona Del Mar  $239,170
90067 Century City  $229,571
92663 Newport Beach  $217,899
90017 Los Angeles  $211,150
90069 West Hollywood  $209,995
90024 Los Angeles  $206,090
94025 Menlo Park  $202,474
90212 Beverly Hills  $199,750
94118 San Francisco  $198,301
94062 Redwood City  $197,246
94123 San Francisco  $192,629

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