Why it matters: Small donors help sustain a campaign and show grassroots support.
How a campaign raises money is important. Due to strict campaign contribution limits of $3,300 per person for the primary, campaigns that primarily raise money from larger donors cannot return to those same donors for support over and over again.
Small contributors are particularly valuable because they can give $30 more than 100 times before hitting contribution caps.
Tim Tagaris, a Democratic digital strategist who oversaw Sanders’ 2020 fundraising operation, called the number of DeSantis backers surprisingly small.
Mr Tagaris said 40,000 “donations in a week for a leading presidential campaign is a sign that they didn’t prepare well enough on their way to launch, or that there wasn’t the kind of support from ordinary people they were likely to have. hoped for.” He added, “That’s a donor number you expect from Supreme Senate campaigns, not a leading presidential campaign.”
But Eric Wilson, who has served as a Republican digital strategist, called the donor count a “good start” for a candidate who had not previously run for federal office.
“That’s what someone needs against Trump because he clearly had one of the best donor records,” said Wilson, who is now director of the Center for Campaign Innovation, a conservative nonprofit.
A previous presidential candidate with a similar starting number of total donors was Kamala Harris, who had 38,000 on her first day in 2019. She raised $1.5 million that day – indicating how many bigger checks Mr. DeSantis received.
Mr. Wilson warned against comparing Republican and Democratic campaigns because Republican donors are more than a decade behind in “building a grassroots online donor culture”.
The DeSantis campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In Context: DeSantis’ catch is impressive, but worth watching.
The opening total of $8.2 million claimed by Mr. DeSantis remains impressive. It surpassed Sanders’ mark and broke President Biden’s starting record in his 2020 campaign.
It’s not clear what portion of the $8.2 million will come from funds earmarked for the general election. The campaign has said it raised up to $3,300 in general election contributions, which Mr. DeSantis cannot spend during the primary and would have to return if he doesn’t win the nomination.
Money is generally expected to be a DeSantis force, especially since its allied super-PAC has said it expects to have a budget of at least $200 million.
But online funds have become increasingly scarce for Republicans, including Mr. Trump, since last summer — until his recent indictment boosted his fundraising, at least temporarily.
What’s Next: The money primary begins.
The 40,000 backers Mr. DeSantis had in his first week also happens to be the threshold the Republican National Committee just set for candidates to qualify for the first stage of debate.
That number would never be a problem for Mr. DeSantis. But the fact that the candidate who came second to former President Donald J. Trump in nearly every poll reached that goal during his kickoff week is a sign of how heavy that figure is likely to be for smaller campaigns.
The DeSantis team made no secret of the fact that it was asking for big money to coincide with his kickoff. The campaign had gathered large donors at the Four Seasons in Miami for an event they called Ron-O-Rama. Officials in the DeSantis administration also solicited donations from Florida lobbyists, leading some to believe that the governor’s office was tracking their donations at a time when the state budget—and Mr. DeSantis’ veto pen—was at stake.