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.
(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
|90210||Beverly Hills||$ 1,068,969|
|94301||Palo Alto||$ 737,828|
|94118||San Francisco||$ 732,241|
|94025||Menlo Park||$ 731,333|
|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|
|94115||San Francisco||$ 549,900|
|90067||Century City||$ 527,215|
|94114||San Francisco||$ 519,162|
|90212||Beverly Hills||$ 467,998|
|94920||Belvedere Tiburon||$ 466,859|
Top ZIP Codes Donating to McCain Campaign
|92067||Rancho Santa Fe||$408,808|
|92625||Corona Del Mar||$239,170|