The Washington Post

The massive difference in how Democrats and Republicans raise money

You probably have a preconceived notion of where the political parties raise their money. Republicans get lots of donations from wealthy individuals and corporate interests; Democrats get money from less rich individuals and a somewhat overlapping set of corporate interests. Well, we have news for you: That perception is completely correct.

At least, that is, for the parties' Governors Associations. On Tuesday, organizations and candidates that raise money for political campaigns had to file quarterly reports with the Federal Election Commission. The Democratic Governors Association (from here on: the DGA) and the Republican Governors Association (from here on: guess) both reported how much they'd raised between April 1 and June 30. The RGA did much better, about $24 million raised versus under $14 million, although the DGA had more donors, about 1,500 to 400.


When money is given to these groups, which can accept unlimited donations unlike their federal counterparts, the organizations have to document who gave, and how much, and when. Organizations that give just list an address; individuals have to identify their employer. Which lets us see pretty easily how those two groups break down.

And so, we see that the RGA got a much larger percentage of their donations from organizations (corporations, PACs, and so on) than did the DGA.


But that doesn't mean that most of the RGA's money came from organizations. The Republican group raised about $11 million from organizations -- but $13 million from individuals. That's vastly different than the Democrats, who got more money from organizations -- $12.8 million -- than individuals, who only gave about a million.


Which means that, on average, the lower number of Republican individual donors gave far more than their Democratic counterparts. Organizational donors to the RGA gave about two times as much as such donors gave to DGA. But individual donors to the RGA gave 86 times as much, on average, as individuals gave to the DGA.

Who are these beneficent individuals? The DeVos family, of Amway fame. Las Vegas megadonor Sheldon Adelson. And (checks pronunciation guide) Kotch? Koch? Someone named "David Koch," if you've heard of him.

Koch and Adelson gave $2.5 million each. Take them out of the equation, and the average individual donation to the RGA drops from $93,000 to $57,000. The largest individual donor to the DGA? Venture capitalist Ryan Smith. He gave $100,000.

Philip Bump writes about politics for The Fix. He is based in New York City.



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