A Wall Street Journal analysis of House and Senate campaign fundraising found that Democratic candidates maintain an edge over Republican candidates among small dollar donors (those who give $200 or less). In 28 of the 30 most competitive House races, and five of the eight most competitive Senate races, Democrats outraised Republicans in small dollar donations. Democratic candidates in those 38 most competitive Congressional and Senate races raised $35 million from donations in $200 or less, about four times more than their Republican opponents raised from the same pool.
Small dollar donations do more than grow a candidate’s war chest. They also represent grassroots support and enthusiasm for a candidate’s campaign. Individuals who donate in increments of $25 and $50 are generally voters who do not follow or regularly engage in the political process or even reliably vote. The Democratic advantage in this space should concern Republicans not only from a financial aspect, but voter enthusiasm as well.
While Democrats historically lead in this space, individual Republican candidates and the national campaign committees can improve their performance through outreach, material, and fundraising messages that effectively convince supporters to buy in to their races. Doing so will not only reduce the financial disparity among small dollar donors, but also generate more enthusiasm and activity among supporters after they invested in their races.