Democratic presidential candidates are amassing the largest contributions to the campaigns from the insurance industry by a solid margin, with Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., leading in industry contributions of the candidates remaining in the race.

According to the website of the Center for Responsive Politics, a bipartisan watchdog group, through January, Clinton has raised $781,361 from the insurance industry. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., who is ahead of her in the vote for delegates for president, received $594,760 through January from the insurance industry.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the presumptive Republican nominee, has raised $381,482 from the insurance industry during the comparable period, according to the CRP website, opensecrets.org.

Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., who dropped out of the race in January, was the leader through January in contributions from the insurance industry, with donations of $798,612 from insurers. The Senate Banking Committee, of which Dodd is chairman, has primary oversight over insurance regulatory issues in the Senate.

In total, Obama leads in contributions, according to the CRP website, amassing $113.3 million in donations through January, the latest numbers available.

Clinton is next of the remaining candidates, with $105.4 million in donations, and McCain third, with $48.5 million in donations.

The total numbers are for the 2007-2008 election cycle.

According to CRP, as a group the candidates raised more than half a billion dollars in 2007. “By some predictions, the eventual nominees will need to raise $500 million apiece to compete–a record sum,” CRP says on its website.

Ben McKay, senior vice president, federal relations, for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, speculated on why Clinton and Obama hold the lead over McCain in campaign contributions.

“It could be just geographic,” he said. “Arizona is not a big insurance hub, and people tend to support their local member.”

McKay said Clinton’s home state of New York and the abutting jurisdictions of New Jersey and Connecticut are big insurance venues as is Illinois, he noted.

He pointed out that none of the senators are on the Senate Banking Committee or the Judiciary Committee. “Their immediate impact on insurance issues would only be on floor votes,” McKay said.

He suggested the possibility that Clinton and Obama could receive some largesse from health insurers, since both of their plans call for use of the private market.