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Old 09-19-2019, 11:18 PM
Wesley Clark is offline
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Will small donors ever be able to be a major force in poliics


Bernie Sanders hit 1 million individual donors in seven months.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/19/polit...ors/index.html

It seems to be a trend. I believe Obama in 2008 was the first time small donors really made a difference. I believe Dean tried to raise small amounts online in 2004, but didn't do as well as Obama in 2008. The internet probably wasn't as big in 2004.

https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-m...all-donations/

Quote:
Trump received about $239 million from donors who gave less than $200 in total. That amounts to 69 percent of the Trump campaign’s individual contributions;

Hillary Clinton received about $137 million from $200-or-under donors. That made up 22 percent of the campaign’s individual contributions;

Bernie Sanders received about $100 million, or 44 percent of his campaign’s individual contributions.
Going back further, President Barack Obama received about $219 million from small-dollar donors in 2012, or 28 percent of his campaign’s individual contributions. In 2008, Obama received about $181 million, or 24 percent of his total individual contributions.
So in between Trump, Clinton and Bernie, small donors raised almost 500 million in 2016 (I'm sure other candidates got small donations, either third party candidates or other major party candidates in the primaries).

There are some efforts to match small donations with public funds. So if you had a 4:1 match, that means 500 million in small donations would be matched with 2 billion in public funds.

All well and good, it would empower small donors and take power away from large corporations.

But won't this just create a whole new set of problems.

For one, only the most passionate voters actually donate, which mean politicians will be forced to become more and more boisterous, combative and ideologically pure to win over the small donor base?

Also what about all the politicians who aren't exciting? Bernie Sanders is exciting, the guy running for county commissioner is not. Aren't we just going to enter an age where a small handful of exciting politicians drown in cash from small donors and everyone else is left to starve financially?
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Old 09-20-2019, 07:18 AM
jonesj2205 is offline
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Not entirely sure what the question is here, but the unexciting county commissioner campaign has been funded by small donors predominantly for a long time, mostly friends and family. And it's spent on lawn signs and signs at Little League field.
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Old 09-20-2019, 08:36 AM
Wesley Clark is offline
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Originally Posted by jonesj2205 View Post
Not entirely sure what the question is here, but the unexciting county commissioner campaign has been funded by small donors predominantly for a long time, mostly friends and family. And it's spent on lawn signs and signs at Little League field.
The question is will small donors ever be powerful enough to be a major force in politics and take power away from rich people and corporate funding?

Isn't there a risk that small donors will only donate to excitingly, national level politicians, who are only 1% of politicians.

Also won't small donors make politicians become more radical since small donors don't donate to boring candidates? It'll turn politics into reality television even more.
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Last edited by Wesley Clark; 09-20-2019 at 08:39 AM.
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Old 09-20-2019, 10:57 AM
Max S. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
All well and good, it would empower small donors and take power away from large corporations.

But won't this just create a whole new set of problems.

For one, only the most passionate voters actually donate, which mean politicians will be forced to become more and more boisterous, combative and ideologically pure to win over the small donor base?

Also what about all the politicians who aren't exciting? Bernie Sanders is exciting, the guy running for county commissioner is not. Aren't we just going to enter an age where a small handful of exciting politicians drown in cash from small donors and everyone else is left to starve financially?
I have a theory that the more democratic an election becomes, the more it resembles a popularity contest. I'm not yet making a judgement about whether that is good or bad.

I believe the most effective way to fight uninformed votes is through education. Teach the kids how to research their candidates, how to fact check claims, how to evaluate policy proposals...

~Max

Last edited by Max S.; 09-20-2019 at 10:58 AM. Reason: elaborated on education
  #5  
Old 01-17-2020, 12:32 PM
Wesley Clark is offline
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Found out recently that ActBlue raised a billion dollars in 2019, and another billion in 2018.

https://thehill.com/homenews/campaig...r-dems-in-2019

The Koch Brothers spent something like $900 million in 2016 and $400 million in 2018, so ActBlue (which used small donations) is vastly outraising the Koch network.

Which is nice. But I don't know if the democratic party is changing their policies to reflect small donors.

Also an issue with small donors is that unless your race or candidate is sexy, people may not donate. People may donate to a big name senate race or a popular presidential candidate, but they may not donate to a local election or a state legislature seat which also needs a lot of funding.

But so far it seems like with ActBlue, small donors are already a bigger force than corporate contributions in politics.

If we passed legislation to empower small donors like tax credits for small donations or matching public funds for small donations, then small donations would vastly outweigh corporate contributions. However again, this may result in a handful of national races getting tons and tons of money while lots of state and local races are underfunded.
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Last edited by Wesley Clark; 01-17-2020 at 12:34 PM.
  #6  
Old 01-17-2020, 12:46 PM
RTFirefly is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
Also an issue with small donors is that unless your race or candidate is sexy, people may not donate.
Dunno what you mean by 'sexy' because contributions to Sanders and Warren aren't driven by their sex appeal. But:
Quote:
People may donate to a big name senate race or a popular presidential candidate, but they may not donate to a local election or a state legislature seat which also needs a lot of funding.
Seems that this could be tested by the evidence. Sure, Beto raised a shitload of small-donation money in 2018, but AFAICT the Dems running for Congress who didn't do well in that department were Dems like Hoyer who get plenty of money from rich donors.

Re state legislatures, I'd try to find out how the Dem candidates for VA legislature did on ActBlue in 2019. From what I've heard, they did pretty well, but I haven't actually seen the numbers.
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Old 01-17-2020, 01:46 PM
dalej42 is offline
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A couple things are being confused here.

1. The number of individual donations really doesn’t matter that much. One million individuals haven’t donated to Bernie, many of the same people donate over and over again.

2. Large corporations are always going to have an outsized influence. For them, passage or blockage of a bill can have a huge effect on their business, and especially if it’s a large employer in their district or state. And they have the resources to hire people who can generate reports to that effect. Bernie can scream about big banks and Wall Street because there aren’t any in Vermont. When it comes to the dairy industry, however. https://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsr...-dairy-farmers

I do think online small donations do help get and keep voters engaged. Even if you’ve only donated $20 to Bernie, you’re more likely to show up and vote, even if you had a hard day at work and the weather sucks.

I do think they can also be beneficial for someone like me who doesn’t have a competitive state or local race. So, I’m donating out of state races which is easy to do with a text or email on my phone. If I had to write a check and mail it, that’s more work.
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