Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

DeSantis' Fundraising Is from Rich Donors

George Orwell might have said: "All dollars are equal but some dollars are more equal" (or pounds sterling. in his case). And he would have been right. At least in terms of campaign donations. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) bragged that in the first 24 hours after his announcement he raised $8.2 million. This was meant to demonstrate how many people supported him. Impressive? Maybe. Well, The New York Times has a new analysis out that puts DeSantis' fundraising in a different light.

DeSantis raised the $8.2 million from 40,000 donors, which averages out to $205 per donor. That's an odd number, in multiple senses. In contrast, in 2019, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) raised $5.9 million from 223,000 donors in his first 24 hours. That averages out to $26 per donor. Thus, DeSantis is far more dependent on big donors than small donors. That matters.

The maximum legal donation to a primary campaign is $3,300 per person. Very likely, DeSantis had a bimodal distribution of donations; lots of small ones but also many at $3,300. For example, suppose DeSantis had 2,187 donors who gave the maximum ($3,300), for a total of $7,095,000, plus 37,813 donors who gave $26 each, for a total of $983,138. That would add up to $8.2 million. But it would mean that 87% of the money came from big donors, who are not allowed to donate again until the general election. Small donors can be hit up for money over and over and over. Small donors can be hit up 125 more times for $26 each until they hit the legal limit. Thus having large numbers of small donors is actually much better going forward than a small number of big donors because they are a nearly inexhausible resource, whereas with big donors, it is one and done.

Another data point is the 2019 campaign of Kamala Harris. She got 38,000 donors on day 1 for a total of $1.5 million or and average of $39 per donor. DeSantis got 5.5x more money than Harris from almost the same number of donors, again suggesting that DeSantis had a few thousand donors who maxed out.

Consequently, it is likely that DeSantis' base is a small number of rich people rather than a large number of ordinary people. Tim Tagaris, a Democratic digital strategist who oversaw Sanders' fundraising, said: "40,000 donations in a week for a leading presidential campaign is either a sign that they didn't prepare well enough heading into the launch or there isn't the kind of grass-roots support from regular people they had probably hoped for."

So the tentative conclusion here is that DeSantis support comes from a small number of rich people whereas Trump's support is from a large number of ordinary people. When buying TV ads, it doesn't matter where the money comes from, but in the end, it's votes, not dollars, that matter. (V)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates