Six major “super PACs” backing former and current Republican presidential candidates were almost entirely funded by massive contributions from individuals and corporations of at least $100,000, according to a TPM analysis of campaign finance data.
Take Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting but totally not coordinating with Mitt Romney: 58 donations of over $100,000 given to the super PAC made up 82.59 percent of its intake during the second half of 2011.
It shouldn’t come as much of a shock that big donations as opposed to a large number of small or medium-sized donations are really what matter most to independent expenditure-only political action committees. But the numbers really demonstrate just how little moderate donations — the kind typically touted by political campaigns proud of their grassroots support — are playing a part in the new age of unlimited campaign cash.
Restore Our Future probably wouldn’t care much about, say, Massachusetts man Jonathan Whitesell, who donated $17.76 to Romney’s super PAC in September. The group could focus its efforts on attracting 56,306 donors just like Whitesell, or they could just focus their efforts on one rich individual like Paul Singer, a principle of Elliott Management Corp., who gave $1 million to the group.
Even donors like Frank V. Sica — a managing partner at Tailwind Capital who gave $25,000 (well above the amount he’d be able to legally give the Romney campaign) to Restore Our Future — don’t really matter on the bottom line. Restore Our Future would need to recruit 40 Frank Sicas to replace one Singer.
Other super PACs associated with former or current Republican presidential contenders were in the same ballpark. Rick Perry’s Make Us Great Again came in at 86.59 percent; Jon Huntsman’s Our Destiny PAC at 87.19 percent; Newt Gingrich’s Winning Our Future at 96.14 percent; and Ron Paul’s Endorse Liberty at 88.23 percent. Rick Santorum’s Red White and Blue Fund came in with the lowest percentage of dollars from donors who gave in the six figures at 79.59 percent.
TPM’s Clayton Ashley made this chart to demonstrate just how much much big donors in the $100,000+ club matter to super PACs: