BIG-TIME DONORS SMALL IN NUMBER
Less Than One-Tenth of 1% of Population
Gave 83% of Itemized Contributions
Less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the U.S. population gave 83 percent of all itemized campaign contributions for the 2002 elections, an analysis of campaign giving by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics has found.
Nearly 237,000 donors -- just 0.08 percent of the total U.S. population and 0.11 percent of U.S. adults -- were responsible for $728 million of the almost $873 million in political contributions that were itemized in campaign finance reports filed by federal candidates, political parties and political action committees.
Just over 600,000 people -- 0.21 percent of the U.S. population and 0.28 percent of U.S. adults -- gave contributions large enough to be itemized at all. During the 2000 presidential election cycle, 0.28 percent of the nation's population, and 0.37 percent of U.S. adults, gave itemized contributions.
The Federal Election Commission requires the recipient of any donation of more than $200 to itemize the contribution, identifying the contribution amount, as well as the donor's name, address, employer and occupation. The recipient combines all contributions of $200 or less and reports them as one total.
The figures studied represent hard and soft money contributions from individuals made available Dec. 2 by the FEC. Contributions from PACs to candidates and parties, and soft money contributions from organizations, were not included in this study. The total amount given in non-itemized contributions, as well as other statistics for the entire 2001-2002 election cycle (which ends Dec. 31), won't be known until next spring.
The study found that 600,322 donors gave $200 or more to a candidate, party or PAC, for a total of $872.7 million. Donors giving $1,000 or more totaled 236,552 and $728.1 million. Those who gave $10,000 or more numbered 8,870, for $275.6 million. The 310 donors of $100,000 or more gave $105.8 million. And there were 14 million-dollar donors, whose contributions totaled $39.8 million.
The study also found that Republicans raised more than Democrats from individuals who contributed small and medium amounts of money during the 2002 election cycle, but Democrats far outpaced Republicans among deep-pocketed givers.
Republican candidates and parties topped their Democratic counterparts, $68 million to $44 million, in fundraising from individuals who contributed under $1,000 in itemized contributions for the 2002 elections. Among donors giving $1,000 or more, Republicans again beat out Democrats, $317 million to $307 million.
But the trend was reversed among individuals at higher giving levels, from whom Democrats raised far more money than Republicans. Among donors of $10,000 or more, Democrats out-raised Republicans, $140 million to $111 million. Among donors of $100,000 or more, Democrats raised $72 million to the Republicans' $34 million. And among the most generous givers - those contributing $1 million or more - Democrats far outdistanced Republicans, $36 million to just over $3 million.
Contributions from ideological donors - individuals who contributed exclusively to one party or the other - favored Republicans, but more so in the number of donors than in the amount they gave. Some 277,380 individuals gave exclusively to Republican candidates, party committees and leadership PACs, 42 percent more than the 195,715 who gave exclusively to Democrats. But the GOP's ideological donors contributed $322 million to the party's candidates, party committees and leadership PACs, as compared to the Democrats' $290 million, an 11 percent advantage.