First off, campaign finance reports are all about the cash, so when Gov. Walker's campaign operatives recently claimed that 75% of the reported $5.1M came from donations of $50 or less demonstrates "incredible grassroots support," some of us knew they were trying to pull one of the oldest and lamest tricks in the book.
Journal Times Excerpt:
Walker's campaign manager, Stephan Thompson, said in a statement that 75 percent of Walker's donations came from people giving $50 or less.
"It's the incredible support from the grassroots that will enable Governor Walker to continue moving Wisconsin forward," Thompson said.
Wow! Really? That is incredible ...LOL, but I found that those donating $50 or less comprise less than 20 percent of Walker's total campaign cash. So while they're counting apples, I'm counting cash.
Unfortunately, I don't have a staff to pour through Walker's campaign finance report to count each donor and the amount they gave to prove my point, so what I use is the old averaging concept. It works like this:
Walker's campaign report consists of 2,180 pages listing individual donations. The vast majority of pages have 17 - 18 entries of single donations, but there are also a substantial number of pages with 12 or 13 donors. So I applied an average of 15 entries per page. Most of the single donations of $50 or less are either for $50 or $20 with variations in between and some at $10 and less. With that I chose $35 as the average amount donated by the pool categorized at $50 or less.
I'm also assuming that the 75% figure from Walker's campaign is correct.
So let's roll the tape:
2,180 pages X 15 entries per page = 32,700 donations
75% of 32,700 donations = 24,525 X $35 donation = $858,375
$858,375 is 16.77 percent of $5,119,176 total donations
Obviously, the 16.8% is an approximate figure so I would not doubt it could be off by one or two points either way, but I think you'll agree it's a very reasonable estimate.
Don't get me wrong, $858,375 is a substantial amount of $50 or less donations, but when it makes up less than 20% of the total campaign cash, painting it as a "grassroots" majority campaign is nothing more than cheap spin to deliberately misinform the public.
Using their campaign's own definition for "grassroots" as donations of $50 or less leaves us to conclude that up to 83 percent of Walker's campaign cash comes from deep pocketed out-of-state special interests much like the Texas fundraiser at a billionaire's mansion where Walker is scheduled to appear.
I don't think there is any statement, report or action taken that is not first measured, adjusted and reframed for its highest political value by Gov. Walker and his staff, no matter how lame it is constructed.
Grassroots campaign? Don't make me laugh.
CapTimes - Scott Walker's Big Money Comes From Big Donors Outside Wisconsin