Small Donations on the Rise for Obama, Gingrich, and Cain

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Photo: Joe Raedle/2011 Getty Images

The Washington Post has a friendly little gadget that breaks down each candidates' fund-raising (including for Obama) by size of donation, revealing several interesting patterns. President Obama, for one, is trouncing his 2008 record in terms of small donations, with 45 percent of all contributions to his campaign coming in increments of $200 or less, up from just 21 percent for his 2008 campaign. This contrasts sharply with the two top GOP fund-raisers, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, the former of whom is only still alive because of the more than $17 million he raised in the weeks leading up to those disastrous debate performances. 70 percent of Romney's donations were in amounts more than $5,000, with just 8 percent coming in under $200. For Perry, the numbers were even more starkly contrasted: 82 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

Interestingly, the two recent upstarts — Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich — seem to be relying heavily on small donors. Cain is getting over half (54 percent) of his donations in amounts less than $200, with the second-lowest percentage of $5,000-plus donations. Gingrich, like steady-in-the-polls Ron Paul, gets about two-fifths (42 percent) of his campaign dollars from donors giving less than $200. Though this is setting up to be the biggest-money election yet, with SuperPACs able to raise untold millions from corporations, attracting small donors may be a sign of a campaign with a strong online and social networking presence, Obama's clear advantage in 2008. For Gingrich and Cain, often criticized for lacking strong on-the-ground campaigns, an effective online drive may make up for some of that deficit.