Ron Paul, most contributed-to-by-military-personnel candidate?

by John Holbo on August 6, 2007

Someone has gone and collected some numbers (or, rather, has finished the job started here and, before that, here).

Caveat: I know not who ‘Largo’ is, nor what Phreadom is all about (but they have a Friends of Ron Paul thing in their sidebar). The data is collected from here, hence verifiable (I assume). It turns out Ron Paul is the candidate who has collected the most financial contributions from military personnel (across all branches; presently serving and retired.) I’ll pass along the totals, going just far enough down the list to give us our major players:

[ok, my nice little table was dramatically messing up the page. Why? I don’t know. It was dead simple html. Oh well.]

Ron Paul (24,965)
Barack Obama (22,866)
John McCain (17,425)
Hillary Clinton (10,550)
Bill Richardson (5,325)
Mitt Romney (3,851)
John Edwards (2,504)
Rudy Giuliani (2,320)

There are curiosities if you consult the full chart (see that first link). Clinton does badly among those presently serving (she didn’t get a dime from anyone serving in the Army, although the Navy seems to like her ok.) She ekes out a 4th overall because she is 1st in contributions from veterans. I don’t think anyone would have predicted that.

Also, apparently there is some concern the Obama figure is inflated (with his total counting income from sales of mugs, t-shirts and such, whereas other campaigns don’t count that. Would I know whether that is true or not? I would not.)

These numbers are low, in absolute terms. I take it to be obvious they might not mean much. (Someone else want to quantify the insufficiency of the data set?) Still, it is suggestive. On the assumption that 2008 is shaping up to Giuliani-Romney/Clinton-Obama primary match-ups, the Dems look ok, the Reps quite pitiful. (Throw in Fred Thompson and John Edwards and the picture doesn’t change.) Romney and Giuliani together get just over half of Clinton’s total, who gets half of Obama’s. So: only 6% of military contributions are going to ‘serious’ Republican candidates, whereas 35% are going to ‘serious’ Dem candidates. (OK, I should throw Edwards in at this point, boosting the Dems to 38%, because Edwards still has, at this point, a real shot, unlike McCain or Paul.)

It makes sense that members of the military would be focused on the war, as a campaign issue. I guess what we are seeing, among Republicans, is intense polarization – pro- and anti-war, with McCain and Paul as beneficiaries of those who will only reach into their wallets for those who are strongest in these directions (Ron Paul is obviously going to sweep the anti-war Republican table, cash-wise). [And now Josh Marshall writes, re: the debate: “The discussion of Iraq was the case in point. Only two guys on the stage had anything remotely coherent to say on the subject – McCain and Paul.”] But it doesn’t look as though the Republican party will be the party of McCain or Paul. Where does this leave Giuliani and Romney, elbowing each other, looking to look tougher and stronger?

UPDATE: one commenter at Phreadom points out that Ron Paul seems to be unusually good at collecting employment data from contributors, thereby artificially boosting his standing in this match-up. Another points out that the data may be a bit of a mess. I also trust it is clear that I mean ‘serious candidate’ only in the horse-race sense of ‘might actually win’. There are, I grant, other forms of seriousness.



Wiggliest 08.06.07 at 11:58 am

The data is thrown off because campaigns are only required to put in their FEC reports the names and occupation/employer of people who have given a total of $200 or more. So if HRC has a million vets giving her $50 each, we would never know. Also donors often just put in the blanks on the form “Retired”. I imagine there’s a political difference between the “Retired” vets and the “Retired Army” vets that might map to D and R. If there’s a contribution gender gap the way there is for voting that would further mess with the statistics, since the armed forces and veterans are over 90% male.


KCinDC 08.06.07 at 1:41 pm

“Giuliani” starts with “Giu” (JEE-OO -> JOO), as in “Giuseppe”, not “Gui” (GOO-EE -> GWEE), as in “Guido”.


Patrick 08.06.07 at 3:15 pm

Ron Paul has a very solid internet support. Look at those “who won the debate” polls. Ron Paul demolishes every other republican candidate in terms of the sort of support that votes on internet polls.

That doesn’t necessarily translate into votes. But the military personnel I know get their information online.


Ginger Yellow 08.06.07 at 3:20 pm

You wouldn’t expect the military to be a bastion of isolationist libertarianism.


Patrick 08.06.07 at 5:36 pm

I would.

Its not logical, sure. The military is a communal organization dedicated to intervening abroad.

But I know a lot of soldiers who envision themselves as the hard-bitten survivalist type.


Warren Terra 08.06.07 at 8:00 pm

How can a candidate be “unusually good at collecting employment data from contributors”? I thought that was a mandatory part of the contribution form, back when I filled them in on paper and now online.


bbartlog 08.06.07 at 9:16 pm

It’s mandatory for them to *ask* for the employment information, but I don’t think it’s actually mandatory for the contributor to supply it (nor for that matter to supply a serious answer). And it’s true that the data is a mess. Eyeballing Ron Paul’s filings I see a fair number of duplicate entries. But I have no reason to believe the data from other campaigns is any cleaner; it’s not like they have any real incentive to make sure everything is exactly correct, they just need to file something that won’t result in election fraud charges…

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