Small donors are giving Republicans a big boost

From Politico:

The tea party movement is energizing a base of small-dollar donors that is turning its grass-roots fervor into financial sway in the Republican Party — borrowing from the online fundraising techniques perfected by its liberal rivals.

The GOP has a long history of collecting small checks through direct-mail pitches, but this new batch of donors who are giving largely online played a role in reshaping the Republican primary field by helping to topple establishment favorites. Their checks of $50, $25 or even smaller amounts have helped generate more than $20 million for three conservative PACs that are playing influential roles in the general election and are poised to do so again in 2012.

The rise of the right’s modest givers is a key reason small donors, who rose to prominence during Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, are continuing to have an impact this year — even as the media focus has been on the unprecedented, large and anonymous corporate givers to Republicans. . . .

In addition, Democrats haven’t given up their edge in online fundraising, which dates to Howard Dean’s pioneering use of the Internet to raise money in 2004. One liberal group alone, ActBlue, is on track to contribute $86 million to candidates this year.

Still, Republicans are staying in the hunt for small checks, through an increased use of online GOP sites modeled after their Democratic rivals that make it easy for conservatives to contribute to the candidates of their choice.

Although the final tabulations about the role of small donors are still to be done, anecdotal evidence reveals that they’re helping to drive some of the story lines of the 2010 midterms. . . .



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