Campaign donations don’t translate to votes. Here’s what they do mean

Local News

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Tonight we’re 180 days away from the Iowa caucuses. That’s a lot of time before we really see the democratic race for president take shape, but some people are already picking sides by having their money do the talking.

Senator Bernie Sanders’ and mayor Pete Buttigieg’s campaigns are collecting the most donations in Iowa. Both collected about $54,000. Buttigieg also has the most from Illinois. That total is more than $1.2 million.

Altogether, Iowans have already donated more than $244,000 to democratic presidential campaigns. But the voters we spoke with say they are still undecided.

So who’s donating the money?

Augustana College political science professor David Dehnel said it’s activists.

WEB EXTRA: The number of donors each candidate has is going to be one of the factors that decides who makes it to the next debate and who doesn’t.
Professor David Dehnel says that system might be flawed.

“The people who are used to being involved in elections, people who often times have donated in the pas,” he said. “They’re much more attuned to politics than the average voter is.”

When candidates give calls to action, Dehnel said activists are the ones who open their wallets.

“It’s more widespread earlier in the cycle nowadays because of the internet,” Dehnel said. “Most voters don’t [go to the candidate’s website]. Most voters just show up at the polls and cast a ballot or even show up at caucus and cast their vote.”

The money may not say how voters are going to vote, but it does show which candidate has the biggest volunteer base, ready to help persuade vote.

“We’re trying to guess how the field is going to be narrowed because there are so many candidates,” Dehnel said. “The big question is, is someone else going to emerge from this massive candidate? And fundraising is one clue.”

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