WASHINGTON — Last September, Gina Jorasch recruited friends to attend a California fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, mugged for a photo with the New York senator, wrote her a $1,000 campaign check and came away convinced that Clinton would be a ``fantastic'' president.
But in early January, Jorasch paid $2,300 to attend another fundraiser and heard Barack Obama deliver his message of hope and change. On Feb. 4, after vacillating for weeks over whom to support, the Palo Alto resident cast her ballot for the Illinois senator in California's Democratic primary.
"If he can break down some of the partisan politics that are deadlocking everything in Washington, that could really cause a change in our government," the 44-year-old Internet entrepreneur said in explaining her vote.
Jorasch is among hundreds of Clinton financial backers who switched gears in January and started shoveling cash into Obama's campaign, a McClatchy analysis of Federal Election Commission records found.
Their shift, while amounting to only a tiny slice of the more than $300 million raised by the two Democratic candidates, was prompted by several factors.
First, Obama has made inroads among even committed Clinton boosters. Second, some Clinton donors want to back a winning Democrat and changed course as Obama's candidacy soared. Finally, others see campaign donations as strictly business and wanted to assure their access regardless of who wins.
Donald Wilson, 82, who once wrote for Life Magazine and rose to become a vice president of Time Inc., gave Clinton $1,000 on Sept. 13. But on Jan. 31, he wrote Obama a $2,300 check, and he now describes Clinton as an acceptable second choice.
While he said his wife, Susan, is sticking with Clinton, Wilson talked of Obama with ardor.
``I'm really turned on by Obama,'' Wilson said. ``I think he's much more interesting than Hillary. I just think he'd be a better president. He's a bright new wonderful face, and I'm crazy about him.''
Many former Clinton donors refuse to talk about their recently redirected largesse.
In Texas, which could help decide the outcome of the Clinton-Obama struggle in its Tuesday primary, Diane Land chose her words carefully as she discussed her recent $2,000 donation to Obama, matching her donations to Clinton last year.
Land, who said she donated after she received a telephone call from an Obama fundraiser in January, was reluctant to say much about why she was now contributing to Obama.
"You know, I would be proud to vote for either one of them in November. I gave money to (former candidate John) Edwards, too," she said with a laugh. "I'm supportive of the Democratic Party. I like all three of those candidates, and therefore I gave money to their campaigns." Edwards dropped out of the race in January.
One recent Obama convert who declined to speak publicly for fear of alienating friends, offered this rationale.
``I did change camps,'' the donor said. ``I feel very strong loyalty to Hillary. But I did not like the tone of her campaign.''
Some of Clinton's financial supporters were never the backers they seemed to be.
Take Paul Gott, a Seattle surgeon. He said he paid $2,300 last fall to attend a Clinton fundraiser only because of his life partner's ``arm twisting'' and because ``it seemed like she was the likely nominee at the time.''
But he criticized Clinton for a ``mindset of `my way is the best way.'''
After reading Obama's books, Gott said, he gave him $500, praising his philosophy of ``trying to listen to both sides of an argument'' and of working with Republicans and reducing polarization.
Shama Nannapaneni, who with her husband owns a Massachusetts-based software services company, donated $2,300 at a convention of Indian-Americans in Washington last summer, but not because of affection for Clinton.
``I would call myself a Bill (Clinton) supporter,'' she said. ``I donated the money because of Bill. After that, she didn't prove the mark to me. I don't see the change I'm looking for. I see that in Obama.''
In January, she gave Obama $500.
Sometimes, family pressures can affect donations.
Rhoda Glickman, the wife of Clinton-era Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and herself a Bill Clinton appointee at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, gave money to Obama.
Glickman said she raised about $170,000 for Hillary Clinton and remains loyal to her. But her son, Jon, a Los Angeles filmmaker, has raised nearly $50,000 for Obama.
When he was struggling to reach his fundraising quota, she said, he turned to his parents, pressing for a $2,300 check.
``I have never seen or heard him as passionate as this,'' Glickman said. ``He wore me down.''