Holy good God are elections expensive these days. I just read a report that said campaign donations for 2016 are already going to top one billion dollars, and then I read one more report on The Huffington Post that raised my eyebrows even further still.
Bernie Sanders is absolutely killing it with small donors. What’s a small donor you ask? Individuals contributing less than $200 a pop. The HuffPo piece described the difference in Sanders and Clinton donors like this, below.
The vast majority of Sanders’ money has come from donors giving under $200. This contrasts with Hillary Clinton’s campaign, which has raised the majority of its funds from donors giving maximum contributions of $2,700. Clinton’s campaign has also raised substantial sums from small donors, but Sanders’ ability to remain competitive with Clinton’s fundraising by relying solely on small contributions is unprecedented.
What exactly this all means seems pretty straightforward to me, but as always remember I’m just a comedian who reads a lot. But for my money, no pun intended, it seems like Clinton is raking in money from the more traditional — at least traditional for the last few election cycles — sources. Big corporations, super-wealthy people, you get the picture. Then there’s Bernie. According to that same HuffPo piece, Sanders’ donor demographics are much different.
The campaign further stated that 1.3 million people have made 3.25 million donations to Sanders’ run — a record number of donors at this stage in a presidential campaign.
If this isn’t a very stark picture being drawn for Democratic voters, I really don’t know what is. But I’m not interested in litigating whether it’s “better or worse” to have small donors or big donors. Clearly in this day and age to compete on the national stage you need millions upon millions of dollars at your disposal. It seems to me that Sanders has just that, and by all accounts it might not match Clinton’s war chest, but it certainly is enough to give her some extreme agita in Iowa, isn’t it?
My question is this: If there are are millions of Americans willing to give their heard-earned money to Sanders, why is Hillary still considered the odds-on favorite, and more to the point, why is Bernie still being seen as not much of a threat, or even being compared to Donald Trump for the Republicans, who is self-bankrolling his campaign as the billionaire he is? I’m not a conspiracy theorist, and I’m not here to tell you that Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the DNC are behind this puzzling narrative that has emerged — that Sanders is somehow unelectable — but it does really and truly baffle me.
I’m not even arguing for or against any of Sanders’ proposals. Anyone who doubts that the kind of social and political revolution he’s calling for would cause some shift and tumult in our established systems is kidding themselves, and with this much money changing “buckets” so to speak, there will be some chaotic and frenetic government action no matter what. But it seems to me at least that several million Americans have weighed that risk and still think Sanders is at least worth taking a look at enough to hand money they’d otherwise use to feed and clothe their families to him, entrusting that Sanders’ ideas aren’t just crackpot ideas of a crazy, wild-eyed socialist.
Please, someone out there, explain this to me. Again, I’m not saying that I fully endorse or support all or any of Sanders’ ideas, I’m just trying to wrestle with this idea that there’s one candidate out of a massive field of them that is generating what is actual, grassroots excitement, and that candidate is considered a major longshot. Have electoral demographics shifted so much that a guy who is creating JFK and FDR levels of buzz and excitement legitimately has no chance at winning the nomination, let alone the General Election?
Don’t answer that last question; I don’t know that my heart can take the answer.