Filing Shows 3.7 percent of Donors Account for Half of Campaign Funds

The Federal Election Commission published quarterly fundraising reports recently for the 2016 presidential race and the new data shows donors giving more than $1,000 – who account for 3.7 percent of all contributors – currently provide for more than half of all direct fundraising in the election.

If a small donor empowerment program were in place, like that proposed in the Government by the People Act, analysis by U.S. PIRG Education Fund reveals that the same top donors would represent only 9 percent of total fundraising, while contributors currently giving $200 or less would account for more than 79 percent of all direct campaign fundraising.

“Our elections should be about big ideas, not big checks. Today’s fundraising report shows that candidates from both parties are relying on large donors to fund their campaign,” said Dan Smith, Democracy Program Director for U.S. PIRG Education Fund. “Meanwhile, voters on both sides of the aisle are ready for reform. It’s time we start talking about solutions that put voters back in charge of our elections.”

Analysis of the data released by the FEC shows that a small donor matching program could dramatically change fundraising in today’s presidential race. Under this system, small campaign contributions would be matched six-to-one with limited public funds for candidates that agree to a lower contribution limit.

A similar small donor matching system is already at work in places like New York City, where participating candidates in the 2013 city council race raised 61 percent of their contributions from small donations and matching funds.

Reworking the FEC’s data within a small donor matching framework shows that under a small donor matching system the top 3.7 percent of today’s contributors would provide for only 9.1 percent of all direct campaign fundraising. At the same time, donors currently contributing $200 or less would account for more than 79% of direct fundraising under a small donor matching system.

“Small donor empowerment programs reduce the out-sized influence of special interests and wealthy donors, putting regular voters back in control of our elections. Today’s analysis shows that these programs don’t just work, they turn today’s big-money fundraising tactics on their head.”

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