It’s the Rule, Not the Exception

The pattern of raising large contributions from individuals is not specific to Colorado gubernatorial candidates Bob Beauprez (R) and Bill Ritter (D). It’s one that candidates across the nation follow when engaged in the money chase to get elected.

Big campaign contributions are the rule rather than the exception in the 50 states, according to a recent report by the Institute on Money in State Politics analyzing contributions in the 2004 and 2005 elections.“The idea of candidates hitting the campaign trail and raising the money they need for their efforts often conjures up images of people knocking on doors and asking their friends and neighbors for financial support,” states the report. “But the hard reality differs greatly. Most candidates and even more political party and ballot committees rely heavily on large contributions from a relatively small number of contributors to finance their campaigns.”

The national total for small contributions to campaigns for governor and lieutenant governor is just 3.3 percent. In the report, small contributions are defined as any that fall under a particular state’s threshold for reporting details for the contributions.

In Colorado, the threshold for reporting detailed contributions is $20, one of the lowest such thresholds in the country. Beauprez raised about one quarter of one percent from donors under $20; Ritter, about 1/3 of one percent.

Overall, nationwide, just 5 percent of the contributions collected by state candidates for office came from small “unitemized” contributions. This is more than the 3.4 percent in unitemized contributions collected by state political parties and the less than one percent in such contributions collected by committees backing ballot initiatives.