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Internet campaign donations changed the pool

Thomas Edsall writes in the Washington Post: The surging number of campaign contributors in 2004, especially the small donors who gave online, changed the character of one of the most important constituencies in U.S. politics, the people who finance presidential elections. This key group has become more reflective of the middle class, has a higher percentage of women and is far more willing to contribute without being directly solicited.

The new small donors, who played a much bigger role in 2004 than in the past, are polarized on ideological, cultural and economic issues in much the same way that large givers are, according to a survey by the Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet at George Washington University of all donors, both those using the Internet and those who did not.

"The presidential campaign of 2004 was a watershed moment in political fundraising because of the convergence of a new regulatory regime, a bitterly fought campaign and closely divided electorate, and the increasing sophistication of Internet technology," wrote Joseph Graf, project director of the institute, and three colleagues. ...

Because there is not a major ideological difference between all large and small donors, the authors of the study concluded that the "increasing numbers of small donors are not a polarizing influence." -- Rise in Online Fundraising Changed Face of Campaign Donors

The full report may be downloaded here.

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