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Tracking the Money: Presidential Candidates and Texas

Texans are already opening their pocketbooks to show support for their favorite presidential candidates. The Tribune’s visualizations of data from federal campaign finance reports reveal who has collected and spent the most in Texas.

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The presidential election primary season is seven months away, and Texans are already opening their pocketbooks to show support for their favorite candidates. And so far, the presidential hopefuls have reported spending $1.7 million for their campaigns in Texas. President Obama, the only Democrat running, has raked in the most money in Texas out of any single presidential candidate: $1.4 million. But that doesn’t mean the traditionally red state of Texas has turned blue. 


Texans have given nearly twice as much to Republican candidates in total, but the money is split eight ways. Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, stands out as the leader of the Republican pack. He’s collected almost as much as Obama — $1.38 million — from Texans. In contrast, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Surfside, has pocketed less than $300,000 from his home state. And Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann has collected roughly $71,000. Check out a searchable database with all of the candidates' campaign contributions from Texas here

You've likely noticed an important potential Republican contender who’s been scouring for contributions lately is missing from the mix: Gov. Rick Perry. Mounting speculation has some politicos certain Perry will run (there are even rumors he or his supporters have minted campaign buttons). But since Perry hasn’t officially jumped into the 2012 presidential race he doesn’t have to report campaign contributions to the Federal Election Commission, yet. The Trib's database on Perry contributors can help you find out more about who is donating to his existing campaign organization. 

Residents from Houston, Austin and Dallas donated the most total money to the presidential race — but the majority of each city’s contributions went to different candidates. Houstonians gave more than $730,000 to Romney, Austinites gave more than $590,000 to Obama, and Dallas residents gave more than $300,000 to Tim Pawlenty. 


The top 10 grossing cities are also the most populated, with the exception of West Lake Hills, The Woodlands and Irving — wealthy suburbs outside Austin, Houston and Dallas, respectively. El Paso, Corpus Christi and Laredo are significant Texas cities that didn't make the top grossing list. El Paso ranked 16th in total contributions, giving the majority — $17,000 out of a total $21,000 — to Obama. Corpus Christi ranked 24th and also donated the most to Obama.

As with most of Texas, fewer than 10 residents in Laredo have voiced their choice for president with campaign contributions. With the general election more than a year in the future, fewer than 3,500 Texans have donated to any candidate. And only 11 Texans have donated more than $5,000. The top five grossing cities are also the only cities with more than 100 contributions to any campaign.

Campaign spending has barely kicked off the ground either, but Texas has gotten more than its fair share. Out of a total $25.7 million spent across the country, $1.7 million was spent in Texas. Texas’ technology markets reaped the most from campaign expenditures. To get their campaigns started, candidates spent more than $745,000 on website management, website hosting and technology in Texas. 


The biggest spender in Texas, Newt Gingrich, paid multiple companies a total of $495,000 for “website management,” and $18,000 for “web hosting” — an expense so large The Daily Show poked fun at him. He also paid Piryx, an Austin-based company that hosts online fundraising via social media websites, $10,000 for “online processing fees.”

Obama stocked up on computer software — spending $50,000 on Get Connect, an Adobe web conferencing program, and $156,000 on Microsoft Licensing in Texas. Obama and his employees’ visits to Texas cost a total of $21,000 — well worth the $1.4 million he has raised in contributions.

Paul, the only Texan officially running, used most of his Texas spending — $123,000 — on employee salaries and reimbursements. There’s little technology spending listed in his Texas expense reports ($220), but Paul spent nearly $275,000 on reliable, old school campaign tools: Printing, postage and merchandise. 

The majority of Romney's spending in Texas, $169,000, went to Insperity, a Kingwood-based company that manages payroll and employee benefits. He's also spent $98,000 on travel expenses in Texas and $16,500 on technology equipment, software and a graphic designer

Explore the data used for this analysis more by downloading it here on the Federal Election Commission website.

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