Democrat Barack Obama is surpassing rival Hillary Rodham Clinton in campaign contributions from areas with blacks of above-average income, a USA TODAY analysis shows.
The Illinois senator has received more than double the number of campaign contributions from ZIP codes with sizable concentrations of upper-income blacks than Clinton, according to the analysis of first-quarter campaign records.
Obama collected more than 2,200 donations from ZIP codes that ranked above average in both the share of black households and black household incomes, the analysis found.
Clinton received 1,000 donations from these areas. Overall, Obama raised nearly as much as the New York senator did in the first quarter from all sources.
Polls show the former first lady attracts more support from women and lower-income workers than her party rivals. Obama does better with independents and higher-income voters. The analysis is another sign that economics drives their support as much as race or gender.
Black voters are crucial to choosing a Democratic presidential nominee. In South Carolina, host of an early nominating contest, blacks account for nearly half the voters in the Jan. 29 Democratic primary. Obama is seeking to be his party's first black presidential nominee.
Obama's early success raising money from blacks is a sign of how much he has energized them and the challenge posed to Clinton, who is aggressively courting black voters.
Although blacks "can be excited about and loyal to politicians of other races … people lean toward members of their own group," said Carol Swain, a professor at Vanderbilt University. She said the donor patterns are a "reality check" for Clinton, whose husband was popular among blacks.
Minyon Moore, a senior Clinton adviser, said it was "natural" that Obama would appeal to black donors. "We're not ceding that ground," Moore said. Clinton "has a great deal of support in the African-American community."
Obama spokesman Bill Burton said the campaign is "proud of the level of support we have achieved from all groups."