November 30, 2022

How many Americans actually donate to political candidates?

MUSCATINE, Iowa – Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang wants more Americans to donate to political campaigns. The commercial entrepreneur presented a “Democracy dollars” idea that would give each voter $ 100 to spend on whatever candidate they want – but the voter must use the money or lose it.

Doing so, Yang told voters at a town hall in Muscatine on Jan.23, would strengthen the influence of average Americans over business. The percentage of Americans who donate to campaigns is quite low, he said.

“Currently, 5% of Americans donate to political campaigns and candidates,” Yang said.

PolitiFact reporters were covering the event in the Muscatine Community College student center when Yang made the remark, and we wondered if it was true.

The figure is not based on actual donations, but rather on a survey asking people if they have made a donation. We have found that the estimates vary.

Yang’s claim about U.S. political donors is based on a poll several months old, but offers some insight into the number of people who have reported making such donations.

A CNBC / SurveyMonkey online survey in June found that 8% of Americans said they had donated to a 2020 presidential candidate. An additional 19% said “no, but I intend to.” The survey is based on what people have said – it is not based on data on who actually made a donation.

RELATED: Andrew Yang fact check in Muscatine, Iowa

the Pew Research Center analyzed data from a major election survey called American National Election Studies. These data showed that about 12% of Americans said they donated to candidates in 2016, 9% donated to parties, and 5% to other groups.

The survey does not specify the type of candidate (federal, state or local). It included contributions of all sizes. Data is based on self-reported survey responses.

There is an important distinction between donations over and under $ 200.

Under the rules of the Federal Election Commission, campaigns must register personal data of donors who donate $ 200 or more. (This includes name, occupation, employer, and postal code.) However, if a donor donates less than $ 200, the campaign is not required to disclose the donor’s name.

the Center for Responsive Policy found that a tiny fraction of Americans donate more than $ 200 in the federal government. In 2016, about half a percent – 0.52% – of the American population donated $ 200 or more to political candidates, parties, or political action committees. Overall, about two-thirds of the value of donations comes from donations of $ 200 and over, and one-third comes from smaller donations.

RELATED: Think Small: Why Bernie Sanders And Other 2020 Candidates Are Looking For Low-Cost Campaign Contributions

Our decision

Yang said, “Right now, 5% of Americans donate to candidates. ”

He’s probably in the stadium, but the number can only be determined by polls, and different polls have found different numbers.

Yang was citing an online poll in June which found that 8% of Americans said they donated to a 2020 presidential candidate. It was more than a year before the election.

Pew found, based on data from American National Election Studies questionnaires after the last presidential election, that 12% said they had donated, but that was not limited to federal candidates.

Since the best estimates are small, but not as small as what Yang said, we rate the statement to be quite true.