OxBlog

Monday, June 30, 2003

# Posted 9:06 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

DOWNSIDE UP: Yesterday, I commented with surprise on a strong preference for the GOP among small donors to political campaigns. Alas, my surprise has exposed my ignorance of campaign finance to the entire blogosphere.

As JAT points out,
It's not surprising that small donors are heavily favoring Republicans. They always do. This has been true since at least the 1910s. I remember my US History books specifically pointing out this fact.

People who actually are small donors still have to have enough excess cash to really consider contributing. The Republicans have always had a strong advantage among a broad section of the fairly rich-- the upper middle class, lower upper class, et al. The Democrats have generally had support from the broadly poor and a relatively small number of highly committed supporters among the superrich.

Even back in the 1920s, the Democratic Party funds were mostly financed from a mere handful of people. Eugene McCarthy's 1968 campaign was primarily financed by just a handful of people, such as Stewart Mort and Jack Dreyfus Jr. (This explains why he was also a plantiff in Buckley v. Valeo, challenging the campaign finance limits of the time. He still argues that being able to raise money from such a small group of people is much less corrupting than having to raise money from so many different interest groups.) By contrast, Barry Goldwater was the first politician to raise significant amounts of his presidential campaign funds in small amounts through direct mail. To be fair, George McGovern followed in his footsteps and was also very successful at this method.

The Republican Party has *always* had an edge in direct hard money contributions from many different individuals in small amounts. The Democratic Party has always been able to equalize only with massive soft money contributions from the very wealthy, such as celebrities. This why McCain-Feingold is so, so damaging to the Democrats, unless they find ways around it.
JVL adds
Not to quibble, but the only aspect of this story that resembles a yoga asana is the failure of the WaPo to notice the phenomenon [of GOP predominance] until now. Ever since the Reagan landslide of 1984, the GOP has scored the bulk of its hard money from small donors. Ron gave the RNC a mailing list that Terry McAu[liffe] would kill for. No fault of yours that this may be news. In 1984, you were creating in Legos, not blogs.

N.B. Not a hint of condescension there. I have yet to discover that having been born when Cal Coolidge was gearing up to run for re-election confers any eminence upon said dodderer.
Ah, Silent Cal. If only modern Presidents had the good sense to keep their thoughts to themselves more often.

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