by WorldTribune Staff, September 20, 2016
Donald Trump in only a few months has seen more small-dollar donations pour into his campaign coffers than the two previous GOP nominees, John McCain and Mitt Romney, during their entire campaigns.
Trump is close to, or may have surpassed, $100 million from donors who have given $200 or less, according to an analysis of available Federal Election Commission filings, the campaign’s public statements and people familiar with his fundraising operation, Politico reported on Sept. 19.
No other Republican presidential candidate has topped the $100 million mark in small-dollar donations. Trump has done it in less than three months. His first email solicitation for donors was on June 21.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said a senior Republican operative who has worked closely with the campaign’s small-dollar fundraising operation. “He’s the Republican Obama in terms of online fundraising.”
Hillary Clinton, who has been campaigning for decades, counted 2.3 million donors as of the end of August. Trump had 2.1 million donors in the past three months alone.
The Republican National Committee struck a deal with Trump in May and is getting 20 percent of the proceeds from the small-donor operation. The RNC is also getting access to the “invaluable new donor and email file,” Politico reported.
It’s still a mystery as to whether those 2.1 million – and counting — donors will give to other Republicans.
“The challenge is that we still have a divided party,” said Mindy Finn, who led Romney’s digital team in 2008 and worked for George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004.
Trump has found record-setting success as the first Republican nominee “in the Internet age” to have made empowering the grass roots and railing against the elite a core of his campaign message, Finn said. Going forward, the key will be whether his donors can be convinced to give to a candidate with just a bit less bombast. “Can you be a populist without being a barnburner?” she asked. “And thus still be able to raise this kind of money?”