The 2016 Primary Money Race, in Two Charts

Oct 28, 2015

Last week we examined the campaign money landscape in the New Hampshire Primary, both how candidates are raising money in the state, and how they're spending it.

But what do those dollars mean against the national campaign fundraising picture?

In summary, New Hampshire residents are now giving more -- and more to Republicans -- than in the earlier stage of the race. And candidate spending is keeping pace, with the big dollar amounts going to the state's high-priced political strategists and consultants.

But while New Hampshire holds great sway in the presidential nominating calendar, the campaign money spent and raised here is just a tiny sliver of the race's overall fundraising pie.

So, to put all that cash in context, here's the most up-to-date fundraising totals for each candidate, including individual campaign hauls and Super PACs.

In addition to showing the wide spread in fundraising prowess across the field, the graph shows the massive role that Super PAC spending is having so far.* For many Republican candidates - including Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and John Kasich - the money raised by their Super PACs far exceeds what they've managed to raise through their own campaigns. Super PACs can raise and spend unlimited sums of money (unlike campaigns, which can accept no more than $2,700 from a single donor). However, they technically can't coordinate their efforts with the candidates, though some campaigns are pushing those boundaries this year. 

Democrats, on the other hand, have largely relied on their own campaigns to raise cash. For example, Bernie Sanders has refused to accept Super PAC money, while Hillary Clinton's Super PACs represent a relatively small share of her total fundraising.

We can also look at total campaign donations in a pie chart, to get a quicker sense of the distribution of cash across candidates. Between the two of them, Bush and Clinton have collected nearly half of all donation dollars so far this year.

Of course, cash is a crude measure - and often an inaccurate predictor - of a campaign's success. A flush war chest alone is rarely enough to carry a lackluster candidate to victory. But tallying the money can help assess a race's dynamics. It can indicate whether a candidate can build the infrastructure needed to reach voters; whether they can afford the airfare expenses needed in a national campaign; and whether they'll be able to mount a robust advertising effort in the campaign's final rounds. 

We'll update this data over the course of the New Hampshire Primary. To see more of NHPR's coverage of campaign finance in the 2016 race, and beyond, check out our Money in Politics page

*While the candidate fundraising numbers represent totals through the end of September, the Super PAC amounts come from reports filed at the end of June. So current Super PAC amounts may actually be considerably higher for some candidates.