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Last Updated: Monday, 6 December, 2004, 13:00 GMT
US election funds smash records
John Kerry and George W Bush
John Kerry and George Bush raised unprecedented amounts
The amount of money raised to fund campaigning for the US elections in November smashed previous records.

The Republican and Democrat parties raised more than $1.7bn for the presidential and congressional races - compared to just under $1bn in 2000.

The figures show that, for the first time on record, the Democratic Party raised more money nationally.

The large amounts were collected despite new laws designed to limit the influence of political donations.

The figures show President George Bush's campaign for re-election gathered $273m, compared to Democratic candidate John Kerry's $249m.

CAMPAIGN FUNDS RAISED
Republicans
Bush: $273m
Congress: $175m
National Committee: $385m
Democrats
Kerry: $249m
Congress: $92m
National Committee: $402m
Both qualified for an extra $75m of government financing.

Republican congressional candidates garnered $175m, against their Democratic rivals' $92m.

But figures for the money raised by the parties' national committees - which can be used for presidential or state elections, as the party sees fit - show the Democrats came out on top.

They banked $402m, to the Republicans' $385m.

Democrats 'proud'

Despite the Democrats' success in raising $818m overall, they failed to oust Mr Bush from the White House, or seize control of Congress.

The funds raised and spent in the record-breaking 2004 campaign

The fundraising totals surprised those who thought the new McCain-Feingold campaign finance law would reduce the amount donated.

The law bans gifts of more than $25,000 and limits "soft-money" donations by corporations and labour unions.

The figures do not represent the true total raised for the elections, since other organisations, ostensibly unrelated to the two main parties, who carried out political education, were not bound by the rules of the campaign finance law.

It was thought by many that the Democrats would be hit hardest by the changes, since they were used to receiving big cheques from labour unions.

Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry campaigns in Wisconsin. Archive picture
Democrats did better at rounding up small donations
The Republican Party was considered better at rounding up small donations, but the Democrats redoubled their efforts this year, especially in using the internet as a fundraising device.

Democrats are optimistic that by reaching many more individuals, they have put themselves in good stead for the future.

"We now have money in the bank, we have no debt, we have millions and millions of small donors, grass-roots. And we're very proud of what we did," said Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe.

His Republican counterpart acknowledged the accomplishment, telling the Washington Post: "The parties adapted to the law, and frankly the DNC had a bigger adaptation to go through."

"But they broadened their net and were able to get to small donors."

Republicans used rich individuals - called pioneers and rangers - to collect money in small amounts from friends and colleagues, in return for political recognition.


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