Donald Trump has unleashed an unprecedented deluge of small-dollar donations for the GOP, and one that Republican Party elders have dreamed about finding for much of the last decade as they’ve watched a succession of Democrats — Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders and, to a lesser extent, Hillary Clinton — develop formidable fundraising operations, $5, $10 and $20 at a time.
Trump has only been actively soliciting cash for a few months, but when he reveals his campaign’s financials later this week they will show he has crushed the total haul from small-dollar donors of the last two Republican nominees, John McCain and Mitt Romney — during the entirety of their campaigns.
All told, Trump is approaching, and has possibly already passed, $100 million from donors who have given less than $200, according to an analysis of available Federal Election Commission filings, the campaign’s public statements and people familiar with his fundraising operation. It is a threshold no previous Republican has ever achieved in a single campaign. And Trump has done so less than three months after signing his first email solicitation for donors on June 21 — a staggering speed to collect such a vast sum.
“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.”
Clinton counted 2.3 million donors as of the end of August, the result of decades of campaigning, a previous presidential bid and allies who painstakingly built her an email file of supporters even before she formally announced her second run. But Trump had zoomed to 2.1 million donors in the last three months alone, his campaign has said.
The question now is what the gusher means for the GOP. The Republican National Committee, through a deal struck with Trump in May, is getting 20 percent of the proceeds from its small-donor operation for Trump plus access to this invaluable new donor and email file. But can Trump’s candidacy help close the Republican Party’s small-donor divide in one fell swoop? Will these donors — 2.1 million and counting — give to other Republicans? Will they drag the Republican Party in Trump’s direction for years to come? Or, if he loses, will they simply vanish?
SOURCE: SHANE GOLDMACHER