As Big Donors Max Out, Small Online Donors Vital to Presidential Campaigns

As part of an article on Democratic presidential fundraising and Barak Obama’s difficulty in turning money into poll numbers, Perry Bacon Jr. and Matthew Mosk note in today’s Post that Hillary Clinton in particular has a problem: 70% of her campaign’s donors have already given her the maximum $2300 they can contribute during the primary season. By comparison, fewer than half of Obama’s donors have maxed out, in part reflecting his campaign’s success at building a broad base of online supporters who are giving less individually but more in the aggregate.

Of course, once a donor has given the maximum, he or she can still support a candidate by volunteering time, by speaking out in public or private and by encouraging/organizing others to give. But as the big traditional donors attend their last $1000-a-plate dinners, small donors across the country should become every campaign’s target, in part because a campaign can turn to them for money again and again. And, each donor is a potential volunteer and a voice for the campaign in his or her community — once you’ve given to a campaign, you’re INVESTED in it, and you’re much more likely to work to make sure that that investment pays off. Small donors have a value beyond just the money they give — and the barriers to online giving are very low, since all you need is a credit card.

BTW, though it’s not reprinted online, the Post article has a nice chart of what percentage of each major candidate’s donors have contributed the maximum, which also serves as an excellent barometer of the KIND of support they’ve received. Of the eight candidates listed, roughly 70% of donors to the New York twosome (Hillary and Rudy) have maxed out, as have 58% of Romney’s and 51% of both Edwards and McCain’s. The populist predominator and overall winnah: Internet darling Ron Paul, since only 23% of donors to his campaign have contributed the limit — though he’s also only raised $3 million, a tenth of Rudy and Mitt’s respective takes. Interesting numbers all around, and yet another indicator of which candidates have received the favor of the big institutional givers in their parties.


Written by
Colin Delany
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