Politics’ dot-com dollars

Thirty-thousand people gave $4.3 million, an online fundraising record and largest fundraising day for a GOP candidate, to Ron Paul on Nov. 5. What was a landmark day in grassroots-powered fundraising is now called a “Money Bomb.” Now the Paul-powered grassroots have two more “bombs” in order to continue the momentum: RudysReadingList.com, an effort to hit the campaign’s $12 million goal on Nov. 30; and TeaParty07.com, a push to raise $10 million on Dec. 16 in celebration of the Boston Tea Party. Both sites are filled with relevant videos and graphs and visual appeal.

So what has this “revolution” in fundraising meant for other campaigns who have typically relied on funding from the special interests and campaign-matching dollars – both from which Ron Paul refuses funding? They try to replicate it. Barack Obama, Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee supporters have all attempted efforts like these already.

Obama, who is supposed to have the largest online support next to Paul, only managed to raise around $5,000 dollars from his grassroots fundraiser. This to me was quite shocking, that a supposed “first-tier” candidate raised so little compared to GQ’s “Dark Horse of the Year.” Also, “first-tier” Fred Thompson had “Fred’s Giving Day,” which failed to even get 100 people signed up, and many of those signed up supposedly from other campaigns as a “joke.” Mike Huckabee had his “A Buck for Huck” effort, which raised a respectable $200,000 yet that is what the Paul campaign pull typically on a daily basis from supporter-only donations.

Dennis Kucinich supporters are planning an effort on Dec. 15, Bill of Rights Day, which is a day before Paul’s Teaparty07.com. This effort copies exactly the route of Paul’s fundraisers with a goal of 100,000 pledges of $100. It will be seen if Kucinich can prove the trend wrong, and be the only other candidate than Paul to have successful go at an effort like this. Paul and Kucinich are probably the most vocal candidates about ending the war and bringing troops home, and have many times said they are good friends.

Why has Paul been able to raise money faster and stronger than any other candidate without special interests, yet stay only at 8 percent in the polls? There are many possibilities. It could be the way the polls are taken, it could be a political anomaly, or maybe it could be the possibility of demand for a conservative who is against foreign intervention and actually for small government. Either way, fundraising has proven that Paul’s campaign isn’t quite as “third tier” as Giuliani or Romney would have you believe, yet the question of whether donations mean votes still rack the brain.

Alex Merced is a senior majoring in popular culture. Send responses to his column to [email protected]