Where would you donate $5,000 in this election cycle?

Let’s say you’ve done all other normal charitable giving. You’re not hyper-rich, so don’t expect any direct benefits (i.e. three seats down from the candidate at a fund-raiser dinner). Not only that, you have no particular pet causes (though some of the issues you feel strongly about have already been covered under “other normal charitable giving”), and you don’t want or expect any special treatment at all—you particularly don’t want to pestered for the coming years by a stream of solicitations.

Your local politics are remarkably staid—there are no particularly contentious issues or party strife, so you are fairly ambivalent regarding who gets elected to dog catcher. Lastly, your Congressional district is deep in the ‘safe’ category for the incumbent (and assume you don’t have strong disagreement with him/her); the Senate seat is similarly safe.

Note though, that you do have strong political feelings, and you’ve already spent all your going to spend on hookers and blow. This is money that you’ve already earmarked for political campaigning.

Keeping in mind that you’ve already spent all you’re going to spend on hookers and blow, you’ve earmarked $5,000 to influence the upcoming elections. What do you do?

Directly to a presidential candidate fund? The national party closest to your affiliation? A PAC or Super-PAC? A non-profit organization that is closely tied to the election (i.e. a voter registration organization that is concentrating efforts to finds voters that are likely to vote similarly to you)? A different state election that *is *contentious?

And do you send it all out today or do you wait until later in the cycle?

What’s a Doper to do?

Well, then. I’ll take it. Granted my politics are sort of Monster Raving Loony-cum-Pirate Party, and my district is boringly gerrymandered, but I’ve long thought political science needed experimentation. You’re funding SCIENCE!

Sorry, already done through donation to a few alma maters. This is to help a candidate(s) actually win.

Can I donate to influence a plebiscite? 'Cause I’d give it to a state organization pushing a pro-SSM amendment.

I would not give a* single penny *to any election under any foreseeable circumstance.

Point of order - do I have to donate to a US political campaign?

Well, when slightly over a billion dollars is being flung around (and you’ve got to figure * that’s * about the only thing the “job creators” have done to help the economy lately), $5K is pretty much like spitting on a bonfire. That said. I think your choice depends on how involved you want to be. You could give it to a national committee in the hopes that they can detect the difference between their asses and elbows, and, if they’re competent, they’ll spend the money campaigning in swing states (after, no doubt, spending some fraction of it on hookers and blow). This also means that you’re going to be spending the rest of your days awash in requests for more money.

 Probably the largest effect you could have is to contribute to the Senate campaign that appears the tightest, seeing as the majority in the Senate is potentially up for grabs this time around, while the House appears safe for the GOP.

 If you really wanted to get super-hands on, you could probably buy your own newspaper ad or campaign fliers in a swing district and try to influence the outcome there.

Finally, you could take a really long-shot and bankroll a blogger, reporter, or PI to try to dig up some closeted skeletons on the candidate you like least.       If you hit paydirt and your Youtube video goes viral ("Candidate X keeps crippled horses in his secret accounts in the Cayman Islands and is building a special elevator to give them access to his mosque."), then you've potentially made an enormous impact disproportionate to your financial input.

I only have a (limited) grasp of the changing dynamics here, so impressions of different systems would be interesting.

In the hypothetical, you’re interested in donating (never quite get posts like Gatopescado’s) to affecting the outcome of actual office races. You keep track of interests (animals, science, human rights, etc.) and have already donated monies and time to those causes and have set aside the five grand to elect members of your party (or people whose views are largely in line with yours; if they come from different parties then it wouldn’t make sense to donate to the GOP or DNC). So you’ve already donated to an issue-focused organization. For example, if your pro- anti-marriage, you’ve already made a donation to the national PAC of your choice in that regard. You could donate to one (or similar) if you could justify that donating to them would be the best way to ensure that a particular candiate or party does better than if you donated it directly to the candidate him or herself.
Oh, and other than this contribution, you don’t expect to have (and don’t particularly want) any further input or influence. Among other things, you don’t have the time for it, what with all the SDMB posting you do in the elections forum! You also recognize that in some senses your contribution has been diluted, but that doesn’t sway you–enough small donors can equal one large donor. You’re not looking for personal influence, just to help the outcome.

So where would your measly five grand do its best? To the national candidate, national party, or national PAC? Other? A mix?

For the record, the maximum individual campaign contribution is $2,300 (IIRC), so if you’re giving away $5k it will have to be a PAC.

I think Pres. Obama can get by without my $5K, so I’d invest it all in the effort to defeat Minnesota’s “Marriage Amendment” in November, specifically focusing on rural areas.

I think I’d give it to Oxfam. Fewer starving people in the world, more progressive voters (or dissidents, in non-democratic states).