Palin’s small-donor fundraising shows path around GOP establishment to nomination

Sarah Palin has demonstrated she can go around the mainstream media using Facebook and Twitter. But her recent fundraising shows that she can also, if she so desires, go around the established network of high dollar conservative “whale” donors who have underwritten most Republican candidates for president in recent history.

In other words, she’s a wild card who can pretty much do what she wants, no matter how the GOP establishment feels about it.

The FEC report filed Sunday by SarahPAC, Palin’s political action committee, showed a remarkably high percentage of small dollar donors who gave less than $200. The bulk of the money received in the second quarter—$660,000 out of $865,000—was unitemized. That means it came from supporters whose contribution was not only less than $200, but who may have given multiple times yet still not gone over the $200 mark in total giving. Palin aides would not comment on how many contributions were made to reach the $660,000.

Even out of the $200,000 that came from donors with contributions of $200 or more for the calendar year, SarahPAC received only 10 gifts of $5,000, the maximum amount allowed under law, from the beginning of April through the end of June. One donor gave $3,000. But the average donation for these itemized contributions was $285, according to an analysis of the numbers by The Daily Caller.

Palin, who spent $153,679 on direct mail efforts to solicit donations, was outraised by other leading Republican names in the second quarter. Florida Senate candidate Marco Rubio raised a whopping $4.5 million. Ohio Senate candidate Rob Portman raised $2.6 million. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann raised $1.7 million, though some of that came in with the help of a fundraiser hosted by Palin.

Yet Palin’s large number of small contributions lays out a potential path to the Republican nomination for president in 2012 despite the presence of a major obstacle: many of the most influential people in the Republican Party believe it would be a disaster if she became the nominee.

“I don’t ever think she would make a major breakthrough with the high dollar folks,” said Vin Weber, a top Washington Republican lobbyist, who backed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination in 2008 but is co-chair of Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s PAC.

“That would be the story of a Palin campaign. She would finance the campaign largely through small donors and internet donors and things like that,” Weber said in an interview, comparing Palin’s ability to raise large amounts of cash online to President Obama’s during his campaign.

Weber also said that inside the GOP “there would be a lot of people with misgivings” about a Palin candidacy for the GOP nomination in 2012.

“But I think they’d be very reluctant to express them. She is so clearly the champion of a large swath of grassroots Republicans,” he said, adding that this would have a domino effect on Palin’s ability to recruit operatives to build a campaign infrastructure, removing a potential barrier for ambitious campaign professionals on the right to go work for Palin.

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  • Carolyn

    BIG surprise that the GOP says Sarah can’t win without them and their big money. It also doesn’t surprise me that the major part of their scorn for Sarah is because she ‘only’ has the people behind her. My God, the arrogance of the GOP is so bad that they don’t even hide how they really feel about the people.

    Well, in 2012 the GOP is going to see how the people really feel about THEM. And when that happens, all the money in the world isn’t going to save the GOP’s sorry butt. Say goodnight, GOP. You are now as irrelevant and useless as Michael Steele. (But don’t listen to me. I’m just one of the people.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ed-Ross/1043648898 Ed Ross

    I hate to keep attaching a link to my Feb 18 column on Sarah Palin’s presidential prospects, but I pretty much said what this and several other columns in the DC have said five months ago.


    • des1

      I hate that you keep doing it too.

      Palin’s chances of winning might not be as bad as a lot of people claim, but what about her being deserving? What has she done in the last two years to make herself a serious candidate? You watch her on O’Reilly (the only moderately tough interview she’ll participate in) and she’s no different than she was two years ago. She still relies on platitudes instead of having specific policies in mind. I like her views, but I want someone with the intellect of Mark Steyn to be my President, not somebody who agrees with him.

      • anniebanannie

        “but I want someone with the intellect of Mark Steyn to be my President, not somebody who agrees with him.”

        You don’t agree with Mark Steyn? Am I reading that wrong?

        • des1

          No, I want someone like Mark Steyn to run, not someone whose claim to fame is that they say they agree with him.

          Do you (or anyone else here) believe that Steyn would be intimidated to be interviewed by Katie Couric, Brian Williams or any of the idiots on CNN or MSNBC? They hate people like Steyn, but they are all scared of him because he’s smarter than all of them (so he can embarrass them if they try to engage him on the facts). I really do like Palin and think she would have been an excellent VP, but she has no business running for the Presidency when she refuses to do anything besides Facebook or Fox News. If she can’t stand up to the scrutiny now, then she’ll be a disaster in 2012 (that sounds ironic :-) ).

          • anniebanannie

            Oh,,,I get it now. If you would have put a “just” in there —>” someone that JUST agrees with him” then you would have made that clearer for me. Could you work on that please…hehe. KIDDING!!

            I’ve said on here many times that I’m not sold on Palin for prez, but I disagree immensely with anybody that says she’s stupid or is in it just for the money. I also disagree with GOPers who think she should “just go away”. Wrong. She’s fine where she is and as far as I’m concerned, doesn’t need specifics until, and if, she runs for office again. I’m fine with her generalizations of what direction the country should be headed in.

            Steyn? Well, in my opinion, very few people can compare with Mark Steyn. The only time I listen to Limbaugh is when Steyn is filling in. He’s awesome.

  • loudog

    When she becomes a candidate she becomes the number 2 enemy of the GOP, right behind Obama. They’ll rip her apart everytime she opens her mouth when she’s finally forced to answer questions.

  • truebearing

    Would those big time Republican donors be some of the same fools who fell for Obama’s con? Plenty of major CEO’s got bamboozled by Obama’s crony capitalism promises.

    It scare the hell out of those with Whitehouse connections to think of Palin getting in and cutting off their gravy train. Significantly enough, they are more willing to deal with the Marxist devil, Obama, than with an honest protector of the public interest, Palin. A pox upon theirs and Obama’s houses.