[Jonathan] Zucker is only asking donors to give a total of $56 per year. If everyone who gave Sanders or Clinton money—some 10 million donors—gave just $5 per month to congressional candidates, Zucker says, It Starts Today would be able to hand each candidate $2.5 million dollars to run on in 2018. “You’re not having to raise this money, and you’re accountable to millions of people, each of whom only gave you a little bit,” he says.
The Long Shots
That’s a great dream, but a highly unlikely one. To put that figure into perspective, Barack Obama’s lauded populist campaign garnered donations from just over 4.5 million people. Most challengers running in congressional races raise around $200,000. Still, if It Starts Today were able to raise even that much, it could have a real effect. “It might give your local official incentive to run, knowing that you wont have to go into debt to do it for a hopeless cause,” says Michael Malbin, director of the Campaign Finance Institute.
And it’s in those seemingly hopeless races where political scientists see the potential for real change. Under the current funding model, Malbin says national political organizations tend to focus their resources on competitive races where slight advantages could tip the results. It Starts Today, on the other hand, is agnostic about district or probability of victory—everyone gets the same amount. Long shots get the same backing as sure things and candidates in swing districts. Individual donors are rarely eager to similarly distribute their largesse because who wants to throw their money at a lost cause?
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