H'wood funds split ticket

Obama, Clinton neck and neck

WASHINGTON -- Reflecting the split in the nation's political psyche, the entertainment industry split its contributions to the two Democratic candidates left in the presidential race.

According to an analysis of contributions report to the Federal Elections Commission by the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton edged Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. The margin between the two was so thin that they could swap positions again as final numbers were tallied, said CRP spokesman Massie Ritsch.

"Clinton pulled ahead of Obama in Hollywood, but not by much. The figures may change sometime tomorrow after we've done more coding, so I would avoid any grand statements about Clinton being No. 1 in entertainment money. The gap between them isn't that large, but it is more narrow than it used to be."

According to the early numbers, Obama appears to be striking a stronger chord with the industry as he's benefited to the television, movie and music industry as he raised $2.64 million in 2007. Clinton didn't fare badly, as she raised $2.52 million for the year.

When totals were last tallied in October, Obama had a slight lead in the money race with $2.2 million compared with Clinton's $2.1 million.

The razor-thin margin in the race for cash points out how competitive the race is as Obama and Clinton become the choice among Democrats. While the GOP has made in-roads into political Hollywood, the industry is largely dominated by Democrats. The movie, music and TV industries were the most Democratic of the industries, compared with the nation's general contractors, who were 60% Republican.

Of the nearly $6 million that entertainment industry figures gave all the candidates, 86.5% of it went to Democratic candidates, with former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards the race's show horse with $525,416 from the industry.

The top Republican was former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was able to count $482,151 in Hollywood lucre. Of course, both men dropped out after they failed to catch fire with the public.

Arizona Sen. John McCain, who has found early favor with voters, was fourth on the list with $442,366. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney received $227,495, followed by Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., with $256,020 and Democratic New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson with $396,055.

Former Republican GOP Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a darling of the religious right, received a paltry $34,425.

In all, the entertainment industry's $6 million made it the 10th-most-important source for campaign cash in 2007, with lawyers and a law firms giving a whopping $46.6 million to rank as the most important source of campaign dollars.

By the end of 2007, Clinton had amassed more than $115 million in contributions from individuals and political committees, while contributions to Obama were at $102.2 million, according to the latest filings with the FEC.

But the Obama campaign has said that it earned a record $32 million in January.

Total contributions to Democrats have outweighed those to Republicans, with $317.3 million vs. $264.7 million as of Dec. 31. Candidates are required to only file quarterly contribution reports to the FEC.

Tuesday is Super Tuesday, when about half the available delegates are up for both parties in 24 states. Money becomes especially critical in those states, as there are no real alternative choices anymore and voters are left to pick from the remaining candidate pool.