In fundraising ranks, a gender gap is showing

ByABC News
July 30, 2008, 11:28 PM

WASHINGTON -- In a historic election in which a woman almost won the Democratic nomination, men dominate the ranks of elite fundraisers in the presidential race, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

Women account for 59 out of more than 500 top fundraisers in Republican John McCain's campaign. Democrat Barack Obama has 148 female fundraisers out of more than 500.

This underscores a gender gap among the upper echelons of fundraisers even as the two senators battle for the votes of women, who make up the majority of the electorate. These top fundraisers are known as bundlers because they raise money from business associates, friends and family.

"Most Americans would like to see women represented in politics, and political contributions are part of that process," said Sheila Krumholz, of the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. "That certainly applies to the more elite ranks of donors."

Men also account for a greater share of contributions. Male donors provided nearly 60% of donations larger than $200 to Obama and nearly 72% of McCain's donations larger than $200 through the end of May, according to the Center. Federal rules require candidates to report donors' names but not their gender once their totals exceed $200.

By comparison, half of the money Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton raised in her unsuccessful presidential bid came from women. Even so, Clinton also had nearly twice as many male bundlers as female bundlers.

Each candidate has high-profile women among their top fundraisers, such as Carly Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard CEO who advises McCain. Obama's female fundraisers include Vogue editor Anna Wintour and Penny Pritzker, a hotel heiress who is the Illinois senator's national finance chairwoman.

Female bundlers have raised at least $6.2 million for McCain, not counting women who raised money jointly with their spouses. That's less than 10% of the funds collected by male bundlers, the analysis shows.

Women individually have raised at least $10.3 million for Obama. Men have raised more than three times the amount collected by women.