Romney Country, Bachmann Land, Paul-topia: Where the GOP Field’s Money Comes From, What it Means

BY Dante Chinni  September 1, 2011 at 11:00 AM EDT

GOP presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Ron Paul; file photo

Saying you like a candidate is one level of support. Putting a sign in your yard is a bit more. But when your support turns into dollars, ah, there’s the real vote of confidence.

So with the almighty dollar as a guide, what do the various bases of the top Republican contenders look like? Let’s take a look at the financials of the top finishers in Iowa’s straw poll.

Sorting through the second quarter individual donations in for the top declared presidential candidates, Patchwork Nation is beginning to get a sense of the contours of Romney Country, Bachmann Land and Paul-topia. (Texas Gov. Rick Perry had not yet declared by this filing, so there was no national contributor base to check.)

Individual contributions are only one way of giving, of course. Last year’s Supreme Court ruling on campaign donations opened the door to unlimited giving to political actions committees. But individual gifts remain a measure of voter support for particular candidates.

Candidate Fundraising by Community Type
Note: figures rounded to nearest $100. Only itemized donations tallied.

Community TypeBachmannPaulRomney
Monied ‘Burbs$163,600$623,600$6.5 million
Minority Central$10,700$67,000$140,800
Evangelical Epicenters$12,500$67,400$50,300
Tractor Country$3,200$29,000$23,600
Campus and Careers$25,900$113,600$840,400
Immigration Nation$26,600$116,200$572,200
Industrial Metropolis$78,900$354,500$4.6 million
Boom Towns$151,500$531,800$2.9 million
Service Center$37,400$165,400$215,400
Empty Nests$19,800$79,700$315,500
Military Bastions$14,900$67,700$150,000
Mormon Outposts$250$16,600$654,700
Nationwide (itzemized)$545,300$2.2 million$17 million
Additional Un-itemized$1 million$2.2 million$1.1 million

Source: Analysis of Federal Election Commission data

There is a bit of overlap – contributions always follow wealth and some of Patchwork Nation 12 county types are better off than others – but look closely and some trends begin to emerge. Later in the week, we’ll do a comparison with President Obama’s financial numbers, but we now look at the Republicans in comparison to each other.

Romney Country

Going by sheer dollars, former Gov. Mitt Romney crushed his competitors in overall donations in the second quarter — about $18 million versus $4.5* million for his nearest challenger, Paul. Romney has held a consistent lead over his opponent in donations and the quarterly numbers are no different. But a few things stand out about what communities are giving to him. Take a look at the map below and you’ll see the darkest greens packed around the biggest metro areas.


Paul’s base was the Monied Burbs and the Boom Towns, again, these are two of the wealthier county types in Patchwork Nation. But he also drew larger percentages of his money from the socially conservative Evangelical Epicenters, the small-town Service Worker Centers and the Military Bastions than Romney did. Those county types all lean fairly heavily to the right politically.

And it’s not just about percentages, in some of the more politically conservative county types, Paul raised more money in actual dollars than Romney — a considerable feat considering that Romney outraised Paul overall by a margin of about 4-to-1*. Paul raised more money in actual dollars than Romney in the Evangelical Epicenters and the rural, agricultural Tractor Country counties.

The fact that Paul outraised Romney in those places may speak to Paul’s strength in those less metropolitan areas, or Romney’s weakness in them or both. Regardless, it is significant because those two county types hold some of the most committed Republican voters.

Bachmann Land

If Patchwork Nation were grading the Republican candidates listed here by donation amounts, Rep. Michele Bachmann would receive an incomplete. In the second quarter she received some $1.6 million in contributions, but only a third of those receipts were itemized — larger donations listed with names and occupations attached to them. The rest, about $1 million, were small un-itemized donors. So it is hard to get a grasp of her real donation base in Patchwork Nation’s county types.

But, looking at the numbers we do have, some trends crop up. A larger percentage of her money came from Boom Town counties than either Romney or Paul. Why is that significant? As we have noted in more in-depth reportage, those Boom Town counties were hit hard in the housing crunch and seem to be a big base of support for the Tea Party movement.

Look on the map below and you’ll notice one of her darkest-green areas is Clark County, Nev., a Boom Town that has been decimated by the troubles in the housing industry and a hotbed of Tea Party activism. Her haul there is even more than she received from any of the counties in her home district in Minnesota.