From left, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio participate in the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Photo: Paul Sancya/AP
Photo: Paul Sancya/AP

A boom of small-dollar donors in Georgia boost 2020 campaigns 

At least 46,000 small-dollar donors from Georgia gave to Democratic White House hopefuls in the first six months of the year, pouring roughly $1.9 million into the campaign accounts of more than two dozen contenders.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis shows about one-sixth of those donors have given to multiple Democratic candidates this year, another sign that the unsettled race lacks a consensus favorite.  

The review of data from the ActBlue payment processor offers an in-depth look at how small dollar donors – those who give $200 and less – are remaking a crowded Democratic field focused on raising money from grassroots supporters.

Those small-dollar donations are playing an outsized role in the 2020 race because of new rules from the Democratic National Committee that require candidates to raise cash from a certain number of donors to qualify for the first rounds of debates. 

>> Related: Which 2020 Democrats are Georgia donors backing?
>> Related: Tomlinson’s fundraising total could give rival Ga. Democrats an opening

That has triggered an intense competition for donors, some who gave as little as $1 to more than a dozen candidates. 

The analysis, which relies on data from the Center for Public Integrity, shows that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is the leading recipient of small donations in the state. He’s raised more than $450,000 from donors in Georgia.

He’s followed by Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., who has collected roughly $325,000, and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has amassed about $260,000 from small donations. 

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., gestures toward Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., at the CNN debate in Detroit. Sanders leads the field of small donors in Georgia, collecting about $450,000. 
Photo: AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Rounding out the top group is former Vice President Joe Biden, who took in about $220,000 from ActBlue contributions in Georgia, and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, who banked about $200,000 from small donors. 

The rest of the field lagged behind. Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke captured about $90,000 in small donors and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, who is returning to Atlanta next week for a “grassroots fundraiser,” took in about $45,000. 

Most other candidates raised far less. Several low-profile candidates raised just a few thousand dollars from small-dollar donors in Georgia. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio took in less than $300. 

An earlier AJC analysis of preliminary federal data showed Biden was the leading Democratic fundraiser among Georgians who contributed larger donations, topping $200, that are required to be itemized by each campaign. 

The ActBlue data, filed last week, offers a broad view of those small-dollar donors who are giving to Democratic campaigns. But it doesn’t provide the full picture because it doesn’t include donors who give small amounts directly to candidates. 

Republicans, too, are trying to capitalize on President Donald Trump’s success with small donors – he generally raises at least half of his campaign donations from people giving less than $200 - by launching a WinRed fundraising platform. 

But Democrats in Georgia enjoy a mighty head-start with small-dollar donors – not just in the presidential contest, but also other high-profile races. 

An AJC review of federal campaign contributions earlier this year found that roughly one-fifth of donations to Democrats in the state’s most closely watched congressional races were for less than $200. By contrast, Republicans raised about 4% of their cash from small donors. 

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