With an investment of only $2,000, and in less than two weeks, the campaign has raked in between $45,000 and $50,000 in contributions from blog readers, and that number is growing every day, said Chandler campaign manager Mark Nickolas.
Chandler ‘ a former state auditor and former state attorney general ‘ is facing off against GOP state Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr in the Feb. 17 special election for the Lexington-area House seat. But while Kerr has outraised Chandler by several hundred thousand dollars ‘ as of late last week, Kerr had raised about $1.2 million and Chandler was estimating his fundraising total at about $650,000 ‘ Chandler’s campaign says its fundraising pace is picking up and at least part of the surge has come from the Web.
‘It has been phenomenal,’ Nickolas said. ‘I get an e-mail every time there’s a contribution ‘ and we know from the e-mail the source is a blog when they come through that avenue. Since the morning of Jan. 29, the FEC [filing] cut-off, I’ve put all those e-mails in a separate file. So far there are 711.’…
Nickolas said the contributions from blog readers are ‘averaging in the $40 to $50 range.’ The vast number of contributions are between $20 and $25, but every so often a $1,000 or $2,000 contribution will pop up to ‘boost the average.’
While Nickolas was initially hoping simply to make back the campaign’s $2,000 investment, the gamble has brought in more than 20 times that amount.
Chandler’s experience seems to reinforce conclusions made by the Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet, which in a recent report stated that the ‘great promise of online fundraising lies in its low transaction costs,’ enabling political fundraisers to ‘look to average people for funding.’
Indeed, as Chandler’s blog choices demonstrate, while the price of running a campaign ad on a blog varies greatly from one site to another, doing so is uncontestably cost-effective.
‘You can get the premier spot for a lot of these blogs for just $400,’ remarked Nickolas, who consulted with Blogads’ Henry Copeland for advice on where to place his ads.
According to the Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet study, the ‘online political citizens’ are ‘dramatically more likely than the general public to donate money to candidates,’ and by the end of 2003, approximately 46 percent of that universe had already donated to a candidate or political organization in the past two to three months. By way of comparison, only 10 percent of the general population has donated to a candidate or political party during the same time period.
The study also found that Democrats tend to be more comfortable giving online, with nearly half of all Democrats ‘ 49 percent ‘ saying they donated online, compared to just 11 percent of Republican donors.
‘The thing about this community is they are educated. They pay attention to politics. They care and they tend to have a little bit more disposable income,’ Nickolas observed. ‘If you can appeal to them, they are more than happy to throw $20, $50 or $100 at you.’ …
Can Chandler’s success during this special election translate into a winning fundraising formula for other campaigns ‘ particularly in a busy campaign season in which dozens upon dozens of candidates are competing for attention?
‘There’s no doubt about it,’ Nickolas said, though he conceded: ‘We’ve been blessed by the fact that we’re the only race out there.’ He said the campaign’s finance director has been inundated with calls from other Democrats in the fundraising arena wanting to know if they can do this in their campaign.
Nickolas is sure of one thing, however: ‘We’ve probably raised the real estate prices on these blogs.’