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POTUS Campaigns Tout Millions in Donations -- But Will It Matter?

by Alex Gauthier, published
This week a handful of presidential hopefuls touted the millions in campaign donations they racked up during the second quarter of 2015. Official FEC disclosures will not be available until later this month; however, some candidates (Clinton, Sanders, and Carson) are choosing to boast about their early campaign fundraising. Yet, most presidential contenders decided to remain quiet on their first quarter figures, opting instead to let the media do it for them when FEC disclosures are released later this month.

Bernie Sanders is the candidate who, perhaps ironically, may be the most vocal about getting money out of politics. He reported raising over $15 million. The reason why Sanders is so excited lies in the numbers. According to CNN, the Sanders campaign now has over 350,000 donors who donated an average of $33 each. Only 1 percent of donations to Sanders' campaign were over $250.

For some perspective, in the second quarter of 2011, Mitt Romney raised over $18 million -- followed by Ron Paul at $4.5 million.

However, the big headline this week was Hillary Clinton's self-reported $45 million raised in the second quarter of 2015.

On the GOP side, Ben Carson was the first to report a donation figure to the media. According to the Washington Post, the Republican neurosurgeon raised $8.3 million last quarter.

The rest of the Republican field seems to be playing the fundraising game close to the chest. At the moment, all eyes are on Jeb Bush, who announced his candidacy on June 15.

But while everyone is distracted by the media frenzy over which candidate has gotten the last big check, what's missed is that not every campaign dollar is created equal. In the Internet age, a "front-runner" can become an impossible long-shot in a matter of days -- just ask Rudy Giuliani. So while the money game might be one that creates a lot of buzz, it'd be a mistake to think the 2016 election is a foregone conclusion.

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