Presidential Fund Raising From Small Donors Enhances Perception of Candidate

Presidential Fund Raising From Small Donors Enhances Perception of Candidate

A new BYU/Harris Poll of 2,602 U.S. adults surveyed in May by Harris Interactive shows that small individual contributions which may limit the "corrupting" influence of large contributions, especially from PACs and lobbyists, could have a lasting impact with the voters.

This latest study looks at candidates who raise most of their money from small donors ($200 or less) versus large donors ($2000 or more). Ultimately, Americans are more likely to respond positively to a candidate who raises campaign funds from small donors, concludes the report.

Jay Goodliffe, a BYU political science professor who collaborated in the survey notes, says that "Americans seem to accept the fact that campaigns are expensive, so the amount raised is more of a non-issue for them. What is important is the concern that a campaign can be 'bought,' and relying on large donors gives that impression... "

More specifically, the results include:

  • 39% of U.S. adults say they would have a more positive view of a candidate who raises from small donors while just 5 percent would have a more positive view of one who raised from large donors
  • 27% of Americans would have a more negative view of a candidate who raised more than half of his or her money from large donors
  • 58% say their view of a candidate would be neither more negative nor positive about a candidate who takes mostly from small donors
  • 68% say the same regarding one who takes mostly from large donors

Among the 11% of Americans who have made a political contribution in this political season:

  • 38% were more likely to respond negatively to a candidate who relies primarily on large donors than were those who did not donate (26%)
  • Among this group of donors, 68% were more positive in their views of candidates who relied more on small donors

When asked how their feelings would change about a candidate who raised $84 million through his or her own efforts, 57% said that it would not affect their views negatively nor positively and, on balance, views were more positive than negative (28% positive vs. 15% negative). When compared against a similar candidate who raised $168 million, responses were virtually identical, says the report (25% positive, 58% neither, 17% negative).


For additional information about the study, including charts, please visit here.


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