Namesake Donations

Namesakes are problematic. If you have the same name as another person, you somehow get linked to them in people’s minds, even though you probably have nothing in common. My name is Eric and that causes untold hilarity for people who associate the name with the Viking explorer Erik the Red and various other Viking Erik’s and Eric’s, historical and fictional. Needless to say, this usually leaves me at a loss, as I do not have much to say about Vikings, never having been one. I imagine the problem of namesake association is much worse for people with the same name as prominent politicians. Politics is a topic where most intelligent people are expected to have an opinion and be able to talk about it (although others might insist on not discussing politics for the sake of preserving friendships.) Thankfully for me, there are not many Eric’s in politics, and most of those have been pretty minor. I feel for Americans called Clinton, McCain or even Obama, especially if they disagree with their namesake’s views.

How many people are so opposed to their political namesakes that they make donations to their opponents? Thanks to the US Federal Election Commission I was able to find out the totals (at 31st March) for donations made by people called Clinton, McCain or Obama to the three remaining US Presidential hopefuls. Here are the results:

to Hilary Clinton to John McCain to Barack Obama
Donations by people called Clinton $2,500 $2,000 $6,800
Donations by people called McCain $0 $32,981 $3,800
Donations by people called Obama $0 $0 $2,699

What can we tell from all this? Not much, of course! Of all the groups, the people called Clinton are the closest match to the American populous. Their donations ranked Obama first, Clinton second and McCain third. This is in line with the overall fund-raising. In total, Obama who has raised a remarkable $233,823,614 from individual donors. That is not much less than the combined total raised by Clinton, $171,647,510, and McCain, $70,945,412, from individual donations. The McCains, in contrast, obviously tend to stick with their namesake. They contributed a handsome $32,981 to John McCain. Maybe he has a lot of family. I do not imagine Obama is a very common name, but Obama’s still found $2,699 for their namesake, but not a penny for his rivals. Pity poor Hilary, who did not get a cent from a single McCain or Obama! However, she has compensated by putting $5m of her own money into the election kitty.

Of course, all of these figures are tiny compared to the staggering $42,363,736 that Mitt Romney paid into his own unsuccessful campaign. Nobody can say Romney did not put his money where his mouth is. He was not the only Romney to back his campaign either. People with the surname Romney contributed $82,725 to Mitt Romney’s failed bid. At the other end of the scale, Democrat Mike Gravel, the former US Senator from Alaska, also picked up a very large share – 10% – of his own campaign’s finance. He put his hand in his pocket for $47,616, not bad when your supporters only raised a mere $447,379. The total from Gravel’s supporters equates to 0.2% of what Obama’s followers have given so far. Gravel’s campaign also managed to spend more than it raised, which makes me think that Gravel will also be left to cover the $2,733 overdraft. Gravel was not bottom of the fundraising race, though. That distinction went to Jim Gilmore, the former Virginia governor who raised $349,736 from individuals before dropping out of the Republican nomination battle. At least he had $16,455 left in the bank when he gave up, which could be used to pay for a nice meal for every one of the 220 people who donated to his campaign. That might help console Buddy Gilmore of Colorado Springs who coughed up $2,300 in the hope of seeing Jim in the White House.

You should be able to rely on family for backing. Obama’s wife, Michelle, gave $399 to her husband’s campaign. However, a certain Bill Clinton, who lists his occupation as Former President of the USA, last made a campaign donation back in 2001, and that was not to support Hilary!

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