Barack Obama donors yet to support Hillary Clinton

About one-third of incumbent’s supporters back Democrats presidential nominee

Roughly one-third of the biggest donors to Barack Obama's 2012 campaign have yet to donate to back Hillary Clinton this cycle, suggesting that she has failed to attract some of the wealthy Democrats who carried him to the presidency.

Only 340 of Mr Obama's 500 largest financial backers have donated to funds supporting Mrs Clinton, according to a Financial Times analysis in collaboration with Crowdpac, a political data start-up. More striking is the fact that of those who have donated, half have contributed 5 per cent of the sums they gave four years ago, or less.

The president’s top 2012 donors were among the first to take advantage of the enhanced power of super political action committees after the 2010 Citizens United and federal court decisions lifted restrictions on political spending. His top 500 donors that cycle spent an unprecedented $98 million, making up nearly 10 per cent of total funds raised by his campaign, the Democrats’ joint fundraiser and his super-Pac.

Unlimited spending

Super-Pacs are granted unlimited spending as long as it does not co-ordinate with a candidate’s principal campaign.


Yet few of Mr Obama’s top donors have given as much to support Mrs Clinton. She had raised just $60 million to June 30th from the group, with many prominent donors sitting on the sidelines.

When asked why he had not contributed this year, Sidney Kimmel, the founder of Jones Apparel Group, said he had not been a major political donor before 2012. "After the first 2012 presidential debate, Barack Obama took a big hit in the polls and [I] wanted to help make sure he was re-elected," he said. "The contribution came very late in the game and there is no reason to suspect a similar need in 2016."

On track

Even without all of Mr Obama’s supporters, however, the funds backing Mrs Clinton’s campaign are still on track to meet or surpass his 2012 record, and have raised $532 million to the end of June.

The funds backing her campaign have raised twice as much as Donald Trump, her Republican rival. Mr Trump's main fundraising vehicles, including four super-Pacs, have raised a minimum of $209 million to the end of July, almost half of which was raised in the past four months, catching up to Mrs Clinton's monthly fundraising totals.

Separately, the parents of two Americans killed in the 2012 attack on a US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, filed a lawsuit on Monday against Mrs Clinton, saying that her “extreme carelessness’ in handling confidential and classified information” while secretary of state contributed to the conditions that led to their sons’ deaths.

Patricia Smith and Charles Woods allege the attack that killed four Americans, including their sons, Sean Smith and Tyrone Woods, “was directly and proximately caused, at a minimum” by Mrs Clinton’s use of a private email server while in the state department.

– Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2016/New York Times