San Francisco Bay Area Money Behind Obama, as Northern Donors Challenge Southern California

Follow the money. That’s the mantra that can go a long way towards explaining a lot in life, and often much in politics. Starting last fall there was a palpable sense in the San Francisco Bay Area and its Silicon Valley that people were moving their money to Obama. Only now are the analyses coming in that definitively show the shift – that the political money center of gravity for Obama is the north and not the south of the state. The San Francisco Chronicle has a terrific original research project that lays it out, complete with some great graphics. Some highlights:

California contributions to presidential candidates have surged so much
during the current campaign that if it were a state, the area would
rank fourth in the nation.

The rise is a reflection of the influence of Silicon Valley and a flood of donations to Democratic Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, who has raised a great deal of his campaign money through Internet fundraising and social networking.


Six of the top 10 ZIP codes for fundraising in California are in the northern half of the state. That includes three in San Francisco and one each in Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Burlingame.

"It's not that Southern California is giving less, it's that Northern California is giving more" said Anthony Corridor Jr., a professor of government at Colby College in Maine, who specializes in campaign finance. "Silicon Valley has become much more engaged, and the new technologies of social networking and Internet-giving have made Northern California much more involved."


Obama raised $18 million in Northern California - $1.5 million more than he raised in the southern half of the state. He collected $1 in Northern California for every 17 cents raised by McCain and for every 62 cents raised by his primary contender Sen. Hilary Clinton, who did most of her fundraising in the southern part of the state. In Southern California, Obama raised $1 for every 41 cents raised by McCain and every 97 cents raised by Clinton.


This story gives grist to the argument that Josh Green laid on in this month’s Atlantic Monthly about the critical function the fundraising machine from Silicon Valley played in Obama’s rise. It also comes packaged with a database where readers can easily do searches about who gave what, and from what neighborhoods. Definitely worth checking out.

Peter Leyden
Director of the New Politics Institute