The most (and least) popular candidates among small donors

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Bernie Sanders (I-VT) lead the small donor revolution during the 2016 election. He has continued it during his Senate re-election bid, collecting a candidate-high 77 percent of his funds from small donors. ( Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Small donors have fueled a blue wave in contributions for Democrats, but the dollar distribution is far from even.

Data from the Center for Responsive Politics reveals a large disparity between candidates that get small contributions and those that don’t. While a handful of congressional candidates are getting more than half of their money from small donors, a much larger pool of candidates don’t get even one percent of their funds from the sought-after donor pool.

Candidates that aren’t in a tight race generally don’t get much from small donors, with some exceptions for those challenging particularly disliked incumbents. Wealthy self-funders and third-party candidates fare particularly badly among small donors.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) dominates the Senate field, collecting more than 77 percent of his nearly $10 million from small individual contributions.

Another progressive, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), comes in second among Senators, collecting nearly 56 percent of her $34 million haul from small donors. She hasn’t spent much of it — she still has $14 million cash on hand for a potential presidential run.

Republican Senate candidate Corey Stewart bucks the trend by collecting the nearly 50 percent of his money from small donors, the third-highest rate. Though he is expected to lose handily to Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), he’s gotten nearly $1.2 million through small donors.

Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) has pulled in the most money in total — nearly $32 million — from small donors. Nobody else comes close to that number. In total, O’Rourke has raised just under $70 million.

This cycle, 11 House candidates collected more than half of their funds from small donors.

Omar Navarro is almost guaranteed to lose to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and has raised less than $1 million in total, but a candidate-high 71 percent of his fundraising comes from small donors.

With more than $5.7 million in small donations, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has raised more from small donors than any general election House candidate. His raised profile as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee appears to have helped his campaign cash — he’s raised $11.6 million this cycle, up from less than $2.5 million in 2016.

His challenger Andrew Janz has collected $4.4 million from small donors, accounting for 54 percent of his haul, despite being down big in the polls.

Nineteen of the top 25 House candidates among small donor percentage are Democrats.

The least popular

Men make up each of the bottom 10 Senate and House candidates among small donor percentage.

The list of worst-performing House candidates is dominated by those anticipated to either win or lose their race, as donors turn their attention to high-profile races.

Several House candidates pulled less than one percent of their fundraising haul from small donors. That includes candidates like Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Maryland 6th District Democrat David Trone, who has poured a record $16 million into his own campaign.

Independent Minnesota Senate candidate Jerry Trooien got just $276 from small donors, making up close to zero percent of his self-financed $1.6 million war chest. His message of moving away from partisan politics didn’t seem to resonate with donors.

Four other independent third-party Senate challengers collected less than two percent of their money from small donors, including Jonathan Jenkins, Craig O’Dear, Neal Simon and Shiva Ayyadurai.

Republican New Jersey challenger Bob Hugin is the least popular Senate candidate of the non-independents, with 0.6 percent of his campaign funds coming from small donors. He’s raised nearly $200,000 from small donors, but it’s dwarfed by $27.5 million in self-financing.

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