Mitt Romney’s and President Barack Obama’s high-dollar fundraisers make the headlines, but both campaigns have raked in millions of dollars from small-dollar donations under $200 this election cycle.
In August alone, Obama and Romney raised $25 million and $9.4 million, respectively, from people contributing $200 or less, according to a Politico report.
The Obama campaign also says “more than 2 million people have donated $25 or less to Obama this election cycle through August and more than 1.46 million have made multiple donations.” The Romney campaign has not made its numbers public.
On Monday, the Obama campaign announced it had received 10 million donations in 2012.
Under Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulations, campaigns have to make their “best efforts” to collect information about contributors who donate $50-$200, but those who donate less than $200 do not have to be publicly disclosed.
Further, all donations less than $50 fall under the “Pass-the-Hat” rule, which means campaigns do not have to make their “best efforts” to collect identifying information on these donors and can actually report all such donations under a lump sum.
In 2008, the Obama campaign’s fundraising was even more prolific. Politico notes that in September of 2008, an astounding $100 million of the $150 million the Obama campaign raised came from online donations.
“The result was highly unusual,” Obama 2008 Campaign Manager David Plouffe wrote in his book "The Audacity To Win. “...Whenever I checked our fundraising performance online, it was like watching a volcano erupt.”
Obama and Romney have constantly used e-mail contests and various gimmicks to solicit small-dollar donations throughout the election cycle.