EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 14, 2012

In the Merrimack Valley, Obama has more donors, Romney more money

By Jonathan Phelps jphelps@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — President Barack Obama and Republican challenger former Gov. Mitt Romney have raised about the same amount of money in the Merrimack Valley, but the incumbent has more than double the contributors.

Overall, local donors have poured in about $289,000 into the presidential election.

According to Federal Election Commission data, Obama has received more than 1,089 campaign contributions from Andover, Haverhill, Lawrence, Methuen and North Andover for the 2012 election cycle. Romney has received 317 donations.

Starting in Jan. 2011 and ending Aug. 31 of this year, Romney received about $13,000 more than Obama from individual donors in the five local cities and towns. Romney raised $150,939, while Obama received $137,974, according to the data.

Super PAC and PAC donations are separate.

All five communities voted for Obama in 2008, but all the communities except for Lawrence voted in favor of Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker in 2010.

Though vastly outnumbered, Romney supporters have for the most part given larger donations. Romney’s campaign has taken in an average of about $476 per contribution from area donors. Obama supporters have given an average $126.

The maximum contribution an individual can make to a campaign is $2,500.

Obama received 11 maximum contributions of $2,500 in the five cities and towns; Romney has had 34 donors give the top amount.

Richard Padova, a professor of government at Northern Essex Community College, said he is not surprised by the fact Romney has fewer donors, but more money. Democrats are typically more organized on the grassroots level — reaching out to more people who give what they can, he said.

“I think it is a mirror of the parties themselves,” Padova said. “Republicans are typically more wealthy than Democrats, so generally speaking the amount of their donations would be larger.”

This year’s presidential election is on track to be the expensive in U.S. history, Padova said.

“I think it is more driven by emotion — more so than any other election I’ve observed — and because it is driven by emotion this year, money has taken on more importance than ever,” he said.

He said the amount of money being spent on this election can tend to make voters feel disconnected to the candidates and turn them off from voting.

Donors in North Andover gave the most financial support to Romney with $56,000 among 105 donors. Obama raised $28,461 in that town.

In Andover, Obama raised $90,527 and Romney raised $77,700.

“Even though Andover is typically Republican it is a testament to the work that the democrats have done at the grassroots level,” Padova said.”You work hard and generally you get the pay. That is why I think they bucked the trend here in Andover.”

In all, 30 people in Andover gave the maximum $2,500 among the two candidates.

Statewide, however, Obama holds a large fundraising edge over the state’s former governor.

Obama has raised about $14.5 million over Romney’s $7.9 million, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Nationally, Romney trails Obama by $158 million in individual donations.

“Despite Romney being out raised, the Super PACs that are favorable to him have compensated for this by blanketing the air waves with anti-Obama Commercials,” Padova said.

Staff Writer Jesse Roman contributed to this report.

Campaign contributions

Candidate Number of donors Total donated Average contribution

Obama 1,089 $137,974 $126

Romney 317 $150,939 $476

Donations by community

Romney Obama

Donations No. of donors Donations No. of donors

Andover $77,700 114 $90,557 555

Haverhill $11,426 37 $9,391 123

North Andover $56,036 105 $28,461 260

Methuen $5,141 57 $5,992 83

Lawrence $600 4 $3,603 68