Campaign dropouts make strange bedfellows

Rick Perry
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Rick Perry

Ted Cruz owes Rick Perry and Scott Walker thank you cards.

The senator from Texas has gained the most from their withdrawals from the GOP presidential race, according to a Big Crunch analysis of data from the Federal Elections Commission.

Not in polling position — both Perry and Walker were in the low-single digits when they dropped out, so they didn't have much to provide there. But they had developed deep donor lists, benefactors who are now looking to Cruz.

Cruz received $70,000 from former Perry and Walker supporters since they dropped out, according to our analysis, more than any other candidate. Perry left the race on Sept. 11 and Walker quit 10 days later. Carly Fiorina was the second-highest beneficiary, receiving $30,000.

By using donor names and ZIP codes, we matched those who gave to the current candidates between the two drop-out dates and the end of the most recent filing period, Sept. 30. The FEC doesn't assign IDs for individual contributors, so combining names and ZIP codes is the best way to identify unique donors.

But it's interesting to note that Cruz and Fiorina are such outliers and former frontrunner Jeb Bush doesn't appear at all.

Walker's campaign pulled in more than $7 million during his time in the race and Perry raised nearly $1.5 million. And that doesn't include money raised by super PACs in support of the candidates. A trio of super PACs formed in support of Perry's candidacy reportedly raised nearly $17 million. Some big donors have gotten their donations back after he dropped out.

Walker, Wisconsin's governor, gained prominence in the national conservative consciousness by taking on his state's public employees union and surviving as subsequent recall vote in 2012. Since then, he had attracted significant campaign funding from across the nation. Walker's departure from the presidential race was widely read as a sign of the limits of super PAC spending allowed by the Citizens United decision.

Super PACs in support of Walker's candidacy were on pace to raise $40 million by the end of the year, but couldn't help pay for his campaign itself and the campaign shuttered with less than $1 million in the bank.

Watch CNBC's "Your Money, Your Vote: The Republican Presidential Debate" on Wednesday, October 28. The debate will feature two sets of candidates discussing critical issues facing America today, including job growth, taxes and the health of our economy. Coverage begins at 5pm E.T.