In the Massachusetts Senate race, Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren is out-fundraising Republican incumbent Sen. Scott Brown.
In this past quarter, she raised $8.5 million and Brown raised about half that amount, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. While both candidates' No. 1 source for donations is Massachusetts, Warren draws more itemized contributions from out-of-state donors. Brown has criticized her for this, even though in the special election that put him in office, he raised most of his money from out of state.
Who are these out-of-state contributors, and why are they giving money to Warren and Brown? We randomly selected more than two dozen names of out-of-state state contributors from each candidate’s reports to the FEC. The reports are lists of people giving $200 or more. About a half-dozen supporters of each candidate agreed to talk about why they're giving money.
First a Warren backer, Emily Lyon, of Albany, Calif., a city near Berkeley: "We need her in the country," Lyon said.
Warren got the most out-of-state funds from California. Lyon is a clinical psychologist whose reasons for giving were typical of other Warren supporters around the country.
"I know she’s running in Massachusetts, but she’s going to be in the Senate," Lyon said. "But I don’t think of just California, I think about the whole country."
Several donors said it’s important Warren make it to the Senate because they want her to run for president.
As for Brown, he collected the most out-of-state contributions from people in New York. Floridians were the second-highest givers, Texas the sixth. In Fort Worth, piano teacher Carol Malone typified the reasons other Brown supporters say they're giving to him.
"What I really don’t like is his opponent, and I don’t like the left, I don’t like what they stand for, I don’t like how well they are funded, I don’t like anything about the left at all," Malone said. "And Scott Brown in Massachusetts is the one who is countering the left."
In the just-released second quarter fundraising numbers, 66 percent of Brown’s donors were from Massachusetts. Sixty percent of Warren’s donors were from outside the state. In addition to California, Warren raised the most money from Virginia and New York.
Brown has made a big deal about this. He criticizes Warren for getting so much from out of state. But her fundraising overall has continued to grow, even in the face of Brown's criticism of her claiming to be part Native American.
Robin Vaccarino, an 83-year-old sculptor in Studio City, Calif., called that controversy “manufactured criticism.”
"There’s nothing else they can find to attack her with, so they are looking for dumb little things," Vaccario said. "What difference does that make in terms of the needs of the American public? It’s not essential."
Other Warren contributors commented on her integrity and dismissed the controversy over her heritage. But several of Brown’s supporters mentioned Warren’s Native American claims as one of the reasons they think she’s not a trustworthy candidate.
"I just think Scott Brown is the more stable of the two and has the more integrity," said Stephen Kaufman, a lawyer in the Bronx. "And I think that this Warren is just absurd. It’s crazy how she’s behaving; it’s just not acceptable."
Another New Yorker agrees. John Greenwood lives in Canton, N.Y., which is the extreme northern part of the state.
"I contributed to Scott Brown’s campaign because I am concerned about the direction of the country and want to get as many fiscal conservatives in Washington as we can," said the dairy farmer.
Many of Brown’s supporters outside Massachusetts said they wished he were more conservative. And a lot of them said they routinely donate to Republican candidates across the country. For the most part, it was the first time Warren's supporters gave to a candidate outside their state.
Katherine Ross said she did so because she was impressed by Warren and her advocacy for the middle class. Ross is a lawyer in Denver, Colo., and went to Harvard Law School, but never had a class with Warren as the professor.
"I think that what’s she saying is not radical at all," Ross said. "I think what she’s saying is extremely common sense. And I think she’s extraordinarily good at getting the message across — that this is not a party issue, this is not class warfare, this is simple fairness."
Even though Warren is raising more money than Brown, she has less in the bank: $13.5 million, to Brown's about $15.5 million, due to the fact that the he started with more campaign funds. Donations from outside Massachusetts are putting their contest on track to be the most expensive U.S. Senate race in history.
This program aired on July 17, 2012.