Making an Impact with Small Donations

Friday, January 18, 2008 at 10:23 AM

I'm the example in a new BusinessWeek article on small donors in political campaigns, who apparently have less impact than we think.

An excerpt:

Rogers Cadenhead wants to have an impact on this year's Presidential election. So he's heeded online appeals for contributions, making $25 to $40 donations to candidates including Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.), former Senator John Edwards (D-N.C.), and Representative Ron Paul (R-Tex.). "The allure of one-click participation in democracy was too hard to resist," says Cadenhead, a 40-year-old computer book author and the publisher of the liberal-leaning political blog the Drudge Retort. "I'm not the kind of person who gets called for real donations."

Cadenhead and millions of individuals like him are nonetheless being courted by the candidates. Presidential hopefuls are grabbing their attention -- and contributions -- with donation requests embedded in blogs, e-mails, social networks, YouTube (GOOG) videos, and their own Web sites. ...

Small donors like Cadenhead are undeterred in making political contributions, no matter how small. Individual donations are keeping some candidates like Kucinich from dropping out of the race altogether. For many candidates, even a small donation is an indication of support at the polls, where it matters most. "It's an easy way to vote early," says Cadenhead.

In describing my donations to reporter Catherine Holahan, it was hard not to sound insane. I've given $25 to Edwards and Obama, $50 to Paul and $250 to the candidate I finally settled on: Joe Biden (sigh). That last amount grew from $25 to the federal-matching maximum after a Biden volunteer called me the day before the Iowa caucus. When your candidate concedes before your donation clears the bank, it's probably a bad investment.

Since giving my first political donation to Howard Dean in 2004, I've decided that an early contribution of $25 is a good way to start learning about a candidate. Give a politician a dollar and you never get rid of 'em. I get regular emails from Obama, his wife Michelle and Ron Paul along with text messages from Edwards before each debate.

Holahan first contacted me by email, so my server logs reveal how she found me for the story. She searched Google Monday for i gave $25 to ron paul.

Giving money to Paul was more fun before I knew that he published a newsletter that earned nearly $1 million a year in the early '90s and contained articles that expressed loathsome prejudice towards gays and blacks. Even if you believe that Paul did not write the articles himself, that means they were either written with his approval (just as bad) or completely without his knowledge.

That last possibility, the most generous to Paul, demonstrates staggering blindness to what underlings were doing in his name -- one of the worst flaws a president could have.


'Liberal leaning' Drudge report? Someone's not awake, or literate!

Drudge Retort, not Report. Awake or Literate indeed...

Business Weak is make an example of the blog-god? Snarf!

Well, fer teh Paulite donation alone that was kinda deserved.

RP: "That's some good ghost writing there, Lou"

LR: "Thanx Chief"

/Too obscure?

On January 16, 2008 libertarian publication Reason claimed "a half-dozen longtime libertarian activists--including some still close to Paul" had identified Rockwell as the "chief ghostwriter" of several controversial, anonymously written articles published in Ron Paul newsletters from "roughly 1989 to 1994." According to Reason, "Rockwell has denied responsibility for the newsletters' contents to The New Republic's Jamie Kirchick." Rockwell "has characterized discussion of the newsletters as 'hysterical smears aimed at political enemies.'" [15]

You are correct sir on the lure of the one click contribution.

It's a part of the zeitgeist now. Many more sedentary activists this time around and a much better informed electorate as well. The latter is due in large part to blogworld's abilitity to bypass the standard media filters in a massive, immediate and undeniable way. The "urgency of now" is being felt more and more. This election will not be like all the others, I've been saying this for a while now. It's history in the making and everybody wants to have a piece of the action. The only way the Dems can possibly snatch defeat from the jaws of victory this time around would be to elect the disingenuous, inauthentic, out of touch and hopelessly, corporately corrupted Hillary Clinton as the Dem nom. She can lead the Senate if she likes as long as she plays her games fer the sake of the people and not her money folk. Notice she didn't even show up today for the FISA bill although McCain and Obama did? Tsk Tsk sez Spud.

If Obama takes Texas she's toast.

If Hill takes Texas it's going down to the convention and God help the superfdelegates if they swing it her way if Obama's pledged delegate count is higher.

The impact of small donations?

"Everything counts in large amounts."

We vote with our dollars more surely, more often and with more impact than with that little X on the ballot.

Not that Spud is make light of the X, of course.

On Pirate's Treasure Maps the X always marked the spot where the good stuff was.

Be Well.