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What to Expect When You're Electing - The Morning News

Because you've gotten the calls, you already knew that Obama's fundraising machine hits people up more than once. The campaign's fundraising is built to do this. In the eyes of the machine, if you give $50, you're still $150 under the public disclosure limit, and even if you hit $200, you're well under the individual-giving maximum of $2500. Not that Obama uses public matching funds--he opted out in 2008 and again in 2012.

Also, history is on the side of the Obama money vacuum. In 2008 slightly more than half of Obama's donors who gave an aggregate of $200 or more started out giving amounts less than $200. In other words, the Obama fundraisers were able to up-sell a substantial percentage of givers. Overall, the repeat donors were lucrative, giving $100 million to Obama in 2008. The campaign makes it easy, allowing you to save your credit card information at barackobama.com. Just like shoppers do at their favorite online retailer.

Yet there's a bigger reason why Favorite Candidate keeps calling: Fundraising has become a form of stealth get-out-the-vote strategy. Not because they use your donations to buy pizzas for dopey students, but because donating gives you a stake in a candidate's outcome. A joint paper produced by CFI, the Brookings Institution, and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) that eyed the future of publicly financed campaigns in the age of the Internet small donor put donating-as-political-seed this way: "The evidence seems to suggest that giving and doing are reciprocal activities: volunteering stimulates giving, while giving small amounts seems to heighten nonfinancial forms of participation by people who feel more invested in the process."

"It's really a commonly accepted community organizing device," Michael Malbin told me. As a grad student in Chicago, he went to see radical organizer Saul Alinsky, who talked about getting poor people to sign up for 25 or 50 cents (about three bucks today). "The big deal isn't how much the money means to the organization but what it does to the person," Malbin remembered Alinsky saying. Malbin said he's seen only the Obama campaign build an integrated money mobilizing machine on these precepts. Romney hasn't done it and Congressional campaigns haven't done it, and it's probably rare state-wide elections.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jan 3rd, 2013 at 06:56:12 AM EST
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