Where is Herman Cain's campaign money coming from?

Mitt Romney is collecting from Wall Street. Rick Perry is getting moolah from the oil and gas industry. It's harder to tell much about the donor base of Herman Cain, who is fifth in the GOP fundraising race.

Eric Thayer/Reuters
Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain speaks at the office of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Phoenix Monday.

Herman Cain has shot to the top of GOP presidential nominee polls, with his support tripling or better in major surveys over the past month. But so far his fundraising hasn’t kept pace.

He has so far raised a total of about $5.3 million in campaign cash, according to the most recent Federal Election Commission figures. That puts him fifth in the Republican money race in this election cycle, behind Michele Bachmann ($7.5 million) and just ahead of Tim Pawlenty ($4.7 million), who’s already an ex-candidate.

True, Cain’s Federal Election Commission reports cover only cash raised through the end of September. It’s possible his October surprise rise to prominence has been equaled by a money surge we just haven’t yet seen.

But he’s got a long way to go to enter the top tier of candidate riches. Rick Perry has raised more than $17 million, and Mitt Romney has brought in at least $32 million. Plus, both Governor Perry of Texas and Mr. Romney – and libertarian Rep. Ron Paul – are associated with "super PACs," which can raise unlimited funds from deep-pocket donors as long as they don’t directly coordinate with their favored candidate.

Mr. Cain has a political action committee, called the Hermanator PAC. But it’s a plain vanilla leadership pact, which limits how much it can accept from any individual source. It has raised the grand total of $23,602 in the current election cycle, and starts the third quarter with but $2,246 cash on hand. That’s less than the $4,300 Cain paid for “event entertainment” in the third quarter, according to disbursement records.

So where’s Cain’s money coming from? What’s most interesting about the pattern of his fundraising so far is that there isn’t much of a pattern.

Perry, for instance, unsurprisingly gets substantial contributions from the oil and gas industry. Wall Street is investing heavily in Mitt Romney, as financial firms are the top industry donor to his coffers. But the top category for donations to Herman Cain, as determined by the watchdog group Center for Responsive Politics, is simply listed as “retired.” Second is “miscellaneous business.”

If there is a pattern to Cain’s cash, it may be that it comes from just folks. Fully half of the money he raised through the third quarter came from small individual donations. About 40 percent came from large individual donations. In contrast, the Romney campaign got only 10 percent of its money from small donations and 90 percent from large donations.

It’s clear that in terms of geography Cain’s money base is in the South. The FEC has nifty interactive maps that show the amount individual candidates get from each state, and Cain’s biggest haul came from his home state of Georgia. Texas is second, and Florida third. He did respectably in California, but got very little cash from the power corridors of New York.

Money remains the engine of campaigning, and if Cain is to have any chance of actually winning primaries, as opposed to winning polls, he’s likely going to have to get much more money for ads and get-out-the-vote efforts. Maybe he can link up with comedian Stephen Colbert, who has set up his own super PAC in an effort to publicize the absurdity of current campaign finance laws.

Back in July, Colbert joked that maybe he would pick Cain as his favorite candidate and funnel him Colbert super PAC cash.

The comedian’s reason?

“When it comes to presidential candidates I look first for an easily rhymed name,” said Colbert.

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