Political Fundraising: Individual Donors vs. PACs

8 Feb

From government intervention to taxation to health care, we all know that there is a chasm between the views and ideals of Republicans and Democrats. Apparently there are different takes on political fundraising, too.

“The Democrats and Republicans really have opposite problems right now,” said Anthony Corrado, a professor of government at Colby College in an article in thedailybeast.com. “The president has a head start and will out-raise whoever the Republican nominee is, but it’s going to be a financially competitive race because on the other side of the ledger, the super PACS will step in to help erase Obama’s advantage.”

Corrado has strong statistics to support his opinion; Obama has raised about $30 million more than his four Republican competitors combined. However, the Republicans are far in the lead concerning PAC giving with such numbers like Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, which raised $51 million last year and Restore Our Future, the largest of the independent groups supporting Romney which collected more than $30 million last year. “By comparison, supporters gave Priorities USA Action, the main super PAC backing Obama, just over $4 million,” states The Daily Beast reporter Laura Colarusso.

Colarusso explains that the Democrats aren’t tapping into the PAC trend because “in 2008, Obama’s record haul was made possible by the fact that he broke a campaign pledge and opted out of the public financing system. He was the first candidate ever to take that step, and he justified it with the prospect of hostile outside spending. But Democrats haven’t embraced that lesson and have instead rallied against the Citizens United decision that effectively elevated money into a new form of protected political speech. Many supporters of the party have been reluctant so far to contribute to the super PACs the decision effectively empowered.”

On the flip side, Republicans are thriving on this new policy for political fundraising because of anti-Obama sentiment and the fact that individuals can give to independent groups without a donation ceiling. However, many GOP nominees’ numbers from individual supporters are suffering because their party’s funds are divided between candidates while many Democrats widely continue to support President Obama.

“The president still has the advantage,” says Corrado. “The real question is going to be whether conservative small donors will rally behind the eventual nominee to provide the money his campaign will need in a contest against Obama or if he’ll have to rely on the super PACs.”


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