Official campaign committee fundraising totals for the second quarter have been released and a clear frontrunner has emerged. As the graphic below shows, Jeb Bush has raised nearly twice as much cash as the next candidate, Hillary Clinton, mostly through his super PAC.
But here's the catch: Not all money is equal. Dollars from small donors ($200 or less) can actually be a sign of a healthier campaign than dollars from super PACs or large donors. For example, a study found that small donations played a critical role in both of Obama's successful campaigns.
Yes, the total amount raised is a hugely important number. But also important -- and often overlooked -- is the actual number of people who donate. Small donors are more likely to contribute throughout the campaign and can be more easily mobilized to get out the vote. The ratio of small donors to large donors can indicate the breadth and depth of a political campaign.
Using data from the Federal Election Commission, InsideGov broke down the types of contributions to each candidate's campaign committee. As the graphic shows, Bernie Sanders has the highest ratio of small donor supporters (76 percent) while Jeb Bush has the lowest (3 percent). Note that only 17 percent of Hillary Clinton's campaign contributions came from small donors, surprising given the campaign's emphasis on being a grassroots organization.
Campaign finance is an increasingly pressing issue in the U.S. According to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, the number one issue concerning voters in the 2016 election is that "wealthy individuals and corporations will have too much influence over who wins."
It's no surprise then that candidates are downplaying their reliance on super PACs and large individual donors. And while totals raised from small donors are significant in some campaigns, the numbers are still dwarfed by super PACs and large donors.
*Presidential candidates are required to file their campaign earnings with the FEC every quarter. The current FEC numbers, which were released July 15th, cover the period from April 1 through June 30. Candidates like Chris Christie, Scott Walker and Jim Webb, who entered the race after June 30, are not included. Super PAC totals are due on July 31st. Although most PACs have chosen to disclose with their candidates, some have yet to do so.