The Obama reelection campaign is very proud that it has now reached 1 million donors. As it should be! That’s a lot of people who still believe strongly in the president despite, you know, How Things Are. Yesterday, Team Obama launched a page where you can browse all kinds of information about these donors their most common first names, for example, or what time of day they were most likely to donate. One piece of data that caught our eye was the number of individual donors from each state. This, we thought, could actually serve as a pretty useful indicator of which state is most enthusiastic about Obama’s reelection. A poll can tell you how many people say they plan to vote for Obama, but words are not as important as deeds, and actually donating money is a clear signal of not just support, but passion and motivation.
Now, obviously, the more populous a state, the more likely it is to have a lot of donors. Texas, for example, despite its Republican inclinations, boasts 53,224 Obama donors, while the liberal bastion of Vermont only contains 4,184. It would be foolish to conclude that Texas is more likely to go for Obama. But if you divide each state’s population by its number of Obama donors, you find the Obama donors per capita, and the picture becomes clearer. So we did that, and then mapped out the results into five tiers, as you can see above. The darkest blue states have the highest rate of Obama donations, the lightest blue states have the lowest rate, and the ones in between — well, you get the idea.
You can see that the map correlates pretty well with the 2008 electoral college map. Obama won all the states in the darkest shade of blue, and he wasn’t even close to winning any of the states in the lightest shade of blue. In general, the darker the blue, the stronger Obama performed in the state in 2008. There are a few outliers: Alaska and Montana, for example, are both in the group with the second-highest Obama donations per capita. It’s our hunch that their minuscule populations have probably warped the numbers a little bit.
So, what does the map indicate about the intensity of Obama support in each state so far this election season? Its biggest revelation, in our opinion, is Ohio. With its eighteen electoral college votes and working-class population, Ohio is a perennially important swing state. Obama won it by 5 percent in 2008. But as the map shows, it has a pretty low Obama donors-per-capita ratio. Every other state in Ohio’s color tier was won by John McCain except for Indiana (and nobody expects Obama to win Indiana again) and that one weird Omaha electoral vote in Nebraska. This doesn’t bode well for Obama’s chances in Ohio.
It’s not all bad news for Obama, though. Virginia and Colorado are both in the top tier of Obama donors per capita. Even if Obama loses Ohio and Florida, carrying Colorado and Virginia would give him a very plausible path to victory. Incidentally, it would also set up a very plausible scenario for an electoral college tie. Yikes.