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WASHINGTON — The top five donors to both the Republican and Democratic presidential campaigns have shelled out over $100 million so far, with the vast majority — 86 percent — coming from deep-pocketed GOP contributors.
Indeed, according to an Associated Press analysis, one donor alone, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, has given as much as the other top four Republican contributors combined.
Worth an estimated $25 billion, Adelson has donated $44.2 million so far to aid Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and organizations supporting his election.
Other top GOP donors giving millions of dollars to aid Romney include a trio of Texas money moguls and the head of a South Florida-based energy conglomerate.
The top Democratic donor is Chicago media baron Fred Eychaner who has raised more money for the president's re-election campaign than any other Democratic donor.
Eychaner joins DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, a New York hedge fund manager, a Southern California billionaire and a Michigan philanthropist in giving millions of dollars to help Obama win a second term.
Those donors and others are funding a presidential election that surpassed $2 billion in October, with money going toward individual Democratic and Republican campaigns as well as independent, "super" political committees working on the campaigns' behalf.
Political donations can open doors that are closed to most people. Big-dollar donors are often invited to state dinners at the White House and other events with the president. They also may be asked to weigh in on public policy, especially if it affects their own financial interests.
And the ranks of ambassadors, advisory panels and other government jobs traditionally are filled with those who have been unusually generous during the campaign.
These rankings by the Associated Press, based on campaign financial reports submitted to the Federal Election Commission, include contributions to super PACs, presidential campaigns, political parties and joint-fundraising committees. Federal law limits maximum contributions to campaigns, parties and affiliated committees, but federal court rulings have stripped away such limits on super PACs.
This analysis excludes secret but legal contributions that might have been made to nonprofit groups, which can pay for so-called issue ads that don't explicitly advocate for or against a candidate. Such groups are not required to identify their donors.
Where available, the analysis considered donations bundled, or raised, from other wealthy donors. Obama periodically identifies his bundlers. Romney has resisted repeated calls to do the same.