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Top U.S. Political Donors Favor Obama Over McCain
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Top U.S. Political Donors Favor Obama Over McCain

With the presidential campaign of Senator Barack Obama touting record political contributions for the month of September, Nielsen Claritas has taken a look at the source of Sen. Obama’s and Sen. McCain contributions through the lens of lifestyle attributes and socio-economic data, such as income, age, occupation, education, and household composition.

Nielsen Claritas’s PRIZM system breaks down the U.S. population into 66 segments based on these attributes. 

Obama leads McCain in dollars and the number of donations received from the 10 PRIZM segments of the U.S. population that have made the most political contributions through August 2008, Nielsen Claritas reports.

Those top 10 segments account for just 16% of the country’s population, but gave almost 60% — or $202.2 million — of the total donations both campaigns received as of August.  (The same 10 segments accounted for the majority of campaign contributions from January to June 2007, during the primary season.)

Claritas’s “Young Digerati” segment — comprised of affluent, highly educated, ethnically mixed and tech-savvy residents of fashionable urban fringe neighborhoods — gave more than three-quarters of its contributions to Obama.

While it may not be surprising that Young Digerati, who form the core of Obama’s base, are strong contributors to his campaign, it is interesting that the “Upper Crust” segment, the wealthiest lifestyle in America, are also strong Obama supporters.  The Upper Crust, a haven for empty-nesting couples between the ages of 45 and 64 with a high concentration of residents who earn more than $100,000 a year and possess a postgraduate degree, gave 59% of their 2008 campaign contributions to Obama.

Segment Rank (1 = most affluent;

2 = least affluent)

Top 10 Segments

(by dollars donated)

# Overall Donations Overall Dollars Donated % Donations: To McCain % Dollars Donated:

To McCain

% Donations: To Obama % Dollars Donated:

To Obama

4 Young Digerati 54,977 $39,873,550 17.14% 22.98% 82.86% 77.02%
1 Upper Crust 52,392 $39,825,852 34.13% 41.41% 65.87% 58.59%
7 Money & Brains 42,115 $29,265,838 18.83% 25.02% 81.17% 74.98%
9 Big Fish, Small Pond 30,074 $19,558,712 38.36% 46.03% 61.64% 53.97%
16 Bohemian Mix 31,016 $19,276,725 14.92% 20.48% 85.08% 79.52%
3 Movers & Shakers 22,912 $15,548,815 35.50% 44.33% 64.50% 55.67%
31 Urban Achievers 18,348 $11,275,048 17.92% 25.53% 82.08% 74.47%
2 Blue Blood Estates 14,529 $10,390,544 37.02% 43.15% 62.98% 56.85%
5 Country Squires 15,778 $9,822,474 38.24% 46.20% 61.76% 53.80%
10 Second City Elite 11,879 $7,368,921 37.93% 46.66% 62.07% 53.34%
Source: The Nielsen Company (January 1, 2008 – August 31, 2008).

Overall, Obama’s contributors tended to hail from less affluent, urban segments, such as “City Roots,” “Urban Elders,” and “Big City Blues,” according to Nielsen.  In contrast, McCain’s less affluent contributors were more likely to belong to rural segments, like “Kid Country USA,” “Bedrock America,” and “Shotguns & Pickups.”

Nielsen’s analysis is based on data from the FEC.gov website and includes all individual donations over $200 made between January and August 2008. 

Read the complete report.