5 facts about American political donations

According to data from US National Election Studies (ANES). Political donations from individuals represent a significant portion of campaign finance: during the 2016 election cycle, 71% of Hillary Clinton’s total fundraising and 40% Donald Trump came from individual contributions, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Here are five facts about political giving from individual donors:

1Following Americans are do politics donations. According to surveys conducted by the ANES, Americans are now more likely to contribute to candidates and political parties than they were two decades ago. The proportion of Americans who say they have donated to someone running for public office in the past year has doubled from 6% in 1992 to 12% in 2016. (The survey does not specify the type of candidates.) The share of those who say they have donated to parties has also increased, from 4% to 9% over the same period, while the share of donations to outside groups working to elect or defeat a candidate – such as political action committees – remained between 3% and 6%. Overall, the share of Americans who report donating to at least one of these groups in the past year has risen from 11% in 1992 to 15% in 2016.

2Americans who are more politically engaged are more likely to donate. During the 2016 campaign, politically engaged Americans were significantly more likely to donate politically. Those who said they follow government and public affairs most of the time said they donate at a rate of 28%, compared to less than 7% of those who follow government and public affairs occasionally or less often, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted from September 27 to October 27. 10, 2016. Among those who say they always or almost always vote, 21% say they have donated, compared to 4% of those who vote rarely or only part of the time.

3 Democrats were twice as likely as Republicans to say they donated last year. In 2016, 22% of Democrats and Democrats and 10% of Republicans and Republicans said they had donated, according to ANES data. It’s the first election since at least 1992, when Democrats were far more likely than Republicans to donate.

On average, between 1992 and 2016, 15% of Republicans and 14% of Democrats said they had donated to an outside candidate, party or groups. For independents who do not lean towards any of the partiesthe share was 5%.

4Higher income, better educated and older Americans are more likely to donate. According to fall 2016 Pew Research Center survey.

Education is also strongly associated with Likelihood of individuals to donate: 29% of those with a postgraduate degree said they did, compared to 7% of those with a high school diploma or less, according to the survey. The proportion is 24% among holders of a university degree. Also, older Americans are much more likely to contribute than younger Americans. The average donation rate for 18-29 year olds is 9%, compared to 12% for 30-49 year olds, 14% for 50-64 year olds and 32% for 65+ year olds.

5Most Americans donate less than $100. Of all Americans who said they donated to a candidate or a group working to elect a candidate, 55% said they gave less than $100, while 32% said they gave between $100 and $250. according to fall 2016 survey. The remaining 13% said they gave more than $250. However, those who earn more also tend to give more. Among those who donated, 27% of those with a household income of $150,000 or more reported giving more than $250, while 16% of contributors with an income between $75,000 and $150,000 gave. donated at least $250.

Note: See the full results from Sept. 27 to Oct. 27, 2016, Pew Research Center survey (PDF).

Adam Hughes is Associate Director of Data Labs at the Pew Research Center.