Obama Raises More Than $650,000 To Lead Political Candidate Fundraising In Conservative Indiana

This story was written by Bertrand Teo, Indiana Daily Student
Senior Torrey Kittle says he hungers for the change that Sen. Barack Obama envisions for America. To help make this happen, Kittle gave $100 to Obama's presidential campaign via two separate online donations.

"I had interned with the Obama campaign team before," he said. "And that experience really convinced me to want to give back to the campaign."

Donations from Indiana residents like Kittle have made Obama the top Hoosier fundraiser in a traditionally conservative state. Supporters point to Obama's appeal to younger voters as one reason for his success.

According to the Federal Elections Commission, the Obama campaign had raised $665,510 in Indiana by the end of February. More than $197,000 was raised in February alone.

Eric Love, director of the Office of Diversity and Education at IU, said the Obama campaign managed to raise more money than the other candidates in Indiana because of Obama's grassroots appeal.

"Obama's approach is to be inclusive," said Love. "He brings people from all walks together."

Love, who is organizing an unofficial fundraiser for the Obama campaign in April, said people in Indiana, especially young voters, appreciate Obama's goal of change.

"A huge factor for him is trying to change government and 'petty politics' involved," Love said. "And that is inspiring even the average person not normally interested in politics to get involved."

Donations to the Obama campaign were mostly received from online donors who gave $25 or more, said Tim Granholm, chapter coordinator of Students for Barack Obama at IU.

"He has managed to raise a lot of money online," Granholm said. "Online donors contributed about 90 percent of the sum raised."

Love also cited the campaign Web site as an effective grassroots tool for fund raising in itself.

"I think the format and structure of the Web site is very helpful," Love said. "Users can set fundraising goals, they can do an individual Web page, and they can state how much they want to raise."

The campaign Web sites of all three candidates had mostly the same functions and usability. The difference is, thus, in the online usership.

"A lot of supporters of Obama are young people who go online to do research," Granholm said.

The Obama campaign actually receives more by accepting only small everyday donations and saves by not organizing big luncheons to attract big donors, Granholm said.

Love agreed. He said a few big donors can give a lot, but a million people donating a dollar can be more influential.

Though Indiana is traditionally a GOP-leaning state, Obama's message has clearly struck a chord with many young voters, Granholm said.

Chelsea Kane, the IU College Republicans chairwoman, said she was shocked to see the amount of money raised for Democratic candidates in this historically Republican state.

"I sincerely hope that Indiana voters will not fall victim to the Democratic party's empty rhetoric of 'hope' and 'change' come November," she said. "The fundraising trend may not be reflective of where voters might actually vote.
© 2008 Indiana Daily Student via U-WIRE