POTUS candidates have to score immediate gratification points to raise funds

Candidates are beholden to small-dollar donors — the extremists who form the base (USA community)

EXCERPT: . . . Over the past quarter century, the Democrats have undergone a wholesale revolution in campaign finance. Whereas Democratic campaigns were once funded by labor unions, New Left public-interest groups, and corporations friendly to left-wing causes, candidates are relying more and more on small donors.

This has been a boon for the party’s coffers, as Democrats have been able to raise eye-popping totals from the socioeconomically upscale portion of their base, more than they ever could accumulate through the old channels. It has also freed the party from the stigma of being in hock to labor unions or other interest groups, which often harmed Democrats’ ability to compete in places where unions are not especially strong.

But the new role of small donors has also shifted the incentives of primary-campaign candidates, in ways that were on display this week. If your goal as a candidate is to maximize your haul from small-dollar donors who are not affiliated with a professional interest group, then you’re basically chasing the Rachel Maddow Show crowd — hyper-engaged, public-spirited progressives. They do not constitute a majority of the party, or of the country. But a lot of them have Act Blue bookmarked on Google Chrome.

The campaign rules established by the party this year — whereby candidates have to secure a certain number of donors and a certain percentage of support in the major polls — reinforce the influence of these donors. Candidates are desperate to get these people to contribute just a dollar, not for so much for that dollar’s ability to buy the candidate campaign services, but to establish the candidate’s viability in the eyes of the party. (And of course there is a long-term opportunity in acquiring new donors, but you can’t reap those benefits if you do not qualify for the next debate.)

These kinds of donors do not have the kind of power that a Walter Reuther or George Meany could exercise in the post-war decades, but they’re not just going to give their cash away to any old schmo. You have to say things that they want to hear. Progressive things. Very progressive things — like open borders and free health care for illegal immigrants. That is what we saw this week: a Democratic cattle call for the progressive donor base.

[...] Forcing candidates to take extreme views that will hurt them in the general election just so they can raise cash for the primaries — oh yeah, that is brilliant. (Obligatory “to be sure” quote coming up) To be sure, the Republicans have similar problems.... (MORE)

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Comment: Arguably applies during non-campaign periods, as well. Both AOC and Trump, for instance, are reputed to commit ambiguous or directly outrageous things, to garner Brownie-points in the minds of their fan bases (among possibly other reasons). As well as potentially any "real" reputation points in online social media and money donation spikes for the future. Doesn't matter that the same speech or behavior may cause a dive in accreditation outside the hyperactive fan bases, even temporarily among the sober supporters, since it maintains one as an ornamental object in the news. A circus act is better than middling to almost zero journalistic and public attention, as far as these career choices go.
All Trump has to do is recycle clips of the eventual Dem candidate from their primary debates. Then their own words sink them. Either they were lying and pandering or they actually believe that nonsense. Trump's peccadilloes are already baked in, and you could make the case that Biden's are as well, but Biden doesn't seem likely to survive the primary....without the party putting its finger in the scale like they did for Hillary.

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