The haves, the have-lesses, and the have-almost-nothings

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Much has been made about Barack Obama’s record-shattering fundraising efforts ($150 million in September alone, more than $621 million raised to date) — and his financial advantage over John McCain. But very little attention has been paid to the true underdogs in this election: the “third party” candidates. So, what kind of contributions have they hauled in?

  • In 2000, then-Green Party nominee Ralph Nader received more than 2.8 million votes (2.73 percent of the popular vote total). Nader’s 97,488 votes in Florida well exceeded the official 537-vote final margin between George W. Bush and Al Gore in that state. Nader’s campaign took in more than $8.7 million in that race. As an independent candidate in 2004, he tallied another $4.5 million in campaign cash, but only received 463,655 votes nationally (0.38 percent of the national popular vote). So far, including primary matching funds received, Nader’s 2008 independent effort has yielded only about $3.7 million through the end of September. Obama, by comparison, averaged more than $5 million per day last month.
  • Former Republican U.S. Representative Bob Barr is running for president as the Libertarian Party nominee. His campaign reports raising more than $1.1 million through September. This pace puts him slightly ahead of 2004 nominee Michael Badnarik, who raised $1,093,013 and received 397,265 votes (0.32 percent of the popular vote).
  • Former Democratic U.S. Representative Cynthia McKinney is this year’s Green Party nominee. While 2004 Green Party nominee David Cobb hauled in just under $500,000 (garnering 119,859 votes nationwide, 0.1 percent of the overall total), McKinney’s net receipts as of September 30 total only $177,195. She spent nearly $400,000 in her unsuccessful 2006 congressional reelection campaign in Georgia.
  • And Constitution Party nominee Chuck Baldwin has taken in roughly $242,000 through mid-October. The conservative party’s 2004 nominee Michael Peroutka raised more than three times that — $700,000 — but received only 144,499 votes nationally (0.12 percent of the popular vote).
  • Finally, frequent senatorial and presidential candidate Alan Keyes is mounting his first independent campaign for president, mostly as a write-in option. His haul to date: under $450,000 — or less than 1/1000 of Obama’s total.

Clearly, for these candidates, there’s a reason you see so few headlines about their fundraising totals . . . and even fewer of their campaign ads.

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