Handful of Donors Have Huge Impact on 2016 Race

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Only 3.7 percent of the donors who have contributed to the campaigns of 2016 presidential candidates so far have given more than $1,000.

But the donations of those 3.7 percent collectively account for 50.9 percent of all direct presidential campaign contributions so far.

That’s according to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, which issued a news release Monday. The nonprofit analyzed the latest quarterly campaign finance reports released by the Federal Election Commission.

The FEC is the federal agency responsible for administering and enforcing federal campaign finance laws, including collection and publication of campaign finance reports that candidates must disclose.

Dan Smith, democracy program director for the PIRG Education Fund, says elections should be about “big ideas, not big checks”:

“Candidates from both parties are relying on large donors to fund their campaign. 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.”

The nonprofit’s analysis included the following candidates:

  • Jeb Bush
  • Ben Carson
  • Chris Christie
  • Hillary Clinton
  • Ted Cruz
  • Carly Fiorina
  • Lindsey Graham
  • Mike Huckabee
  • John Kasich
  • Martin O’Malley
  • Rand Paul
  • Marco Rubio
  • Bernie Sanders
  • Donald Trump

PIRG advocates the institution of a small-donor matching system for presidential races. Under this system, small campaign contributions would be matched 6-to-1 with limited public funds for candidates who agree to a lower contribution limit.

PIRG’s analysis shows that, with such a system in place, contributions from the top 3.7 percent on donors would account for 9.1 percent of direct campaign fundraising rather than 50.9 percent. Additionally, contributions from donors of $200 or less would account for more than 79 percent of direct fundraising.

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