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Through the end of June, team owners in the four major sports and their families have given to or raised as much or more than $3.2 million for McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, compared with as much as $615,000 for his Democratic rival Obama, according to a Politico analysis of data from the Federal Election Commission, the campaigns and interviews.As you might expect, there are a lot of familiar names thrown about here. But the most stunning revelation isn't revealed until far deeper into the piece -- apparently, most of the team owners who were big donors to the presidential campaign of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, have yet to make a contribution to the Obama campaign, perhaps an indication of some lingering resentment after a bruising primary season. Just one example is New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who donated $2,300 to Clinton's primary campaign, but has since made donations to McCain's join presidential campaign committee.
Not only did McCain raise more than Obama from the owners in each of the four major professional sports leagues analyzed, but McCain even raised six times more from the owners of teams in Obama's hometown of Chicago.
One notable exception to that seems to be Charlotte Bobcats owner Bob Johnson, who donated the $2,300 maximum to Clinton's campaign while "bundling" another $100,000 in contributions -- efforts that Johnson has since matched and then exceeded on behalf of the Obama campaign. And for those of you who might be wondering, Bobcats minority owner Michael Jordan donated $2,100 to Obama's primary campaign, but has yet to make a contribution to his general election bid.
But while a fundraising lead among sports owners might cheer the McCain campaign a little bit, it has to be put into the larger context of the overall fundraising take of both campaigns. In that department, Obama has simply dominated, collecting $340 million to just $140 million for McCain. What's worse for McCain, is that Obama's donor base is far broader -- more than 2 million vs. 600,000. That means fewer of Obama's donors have reached the $2,300 Federal limit for campaign contributions, enabling his campaign to re-solicit previous donors with a greater degree of success. Some of that advantage has been offset by the greater fundraising success experienced by the Republican National Committee vs. the Democratic National Committee, but Obama still enjoys a significant advantage heading into the Fall campaign season.
Put simply, while McCain might enjoy an advantage with this small demographic slice of big donors, big donors don't matter as much anymore. Instead, in part thanks to the fundraising success initially enjoyed by the ultimately unsuccessful White House bid of former Vermont Governor Howard Dean in 2000, leveraging the power of the Web to cultivate a far broader base of small donors is now considered the way to go -- a judgment that certainly seems to have been born out by Obama's success.
Prominent McCain Supporters
New York Jets owner Woody Johnson IV
Arizona Cardinals owners Bill and Michael Bidwell
Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars owner Tom Hicks
Prominent Obama Supporters
Charlotte Bobcats owner Bob Johnson
Minnesota Twins owner Carl Pohlad
Boston Celtics owner Robert Epstein
Owners Who Made Contributions to Both Campaigns
Washington Caps owner Ted Leonsis
Chicago Cubs owner Sam Zell
Chicago White Sox and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf