Thumbs down: Americans resent political donations
It’s political season, but Americans aren’t rushing to financially support political campaigns.
It’s a takeaway new study from Lending Treewho notes that as the US midterm elections approach, Americans are preparing to vote, but many are not pulling out their wallets.
According to the survey, a significant number of American voters do not plan to donate to a political campaign in 2022, and most Americans have never done so.
This from the study:
· 71% of Americans have never donated to a political campaign, and 66% do not plan to contribute in 2022.
· Democrats most likely to donate politically in 2022, with 29% saying they are considering doing so. Only 14% of Republicans say they plan to do the same.
· 89% of Americans think money has too much influence in politics. Meanwhile, only 27% of Americans think their political donations make a difference.
· Overall, 59% of Americans say the economy is the most important issue in the upcoming election. with more Republicans than Democrats saying so (68% vs. 52%).
It’s no surprise that a flagging economy has an army of voters worried not about what the polls promise, but about what inflation is doing to their household finances.
“Inflation is clearly a huge concern for consumers,” said Matt Schulz, chief credit analyst at LendingTree. “It impacts virtually everything we do and helps shape our view of how our current leaders do their jobs.”
For some, donating will inspire them to give more to the candidate of their choice.
“For others, it can dampen their enthusiasm about a candidate and prevent them from giving anything away,” Schulz said.
Americans on political contributions: thank you, but no thank you
Why are so many choosing not to contribute to political campaigns, especially in the run-up to high-stakes midterm elections?
For two main reasons, experts say.
“First, most Americans don’t have enough money to give to politicians,” said one election and campaign finance expert. Dan McMillan, author of the upcoming book, “Get Money Out of Politics: The Time is Now.” Some 56% of Americans are unable to pay an unexpected $1,000 bill with savings, according to a telephone survey of more than 1,000 adults conducted in early January by The bank rate.
Second, the American people are wiser than the politicians think.
“A lot of us see that candidates have to raise so much money from big donors that our small donations don’t buy us any influence on what those candidates will do if they take office,” McMillan told TheStreet.
Widespread cynicism about politics is another big reason why Americans don’t open their checkbooks and make political donations.
“Politics and politicians are dirty words these days, and that’s due to the bad reputation they’ve built up over the past few years,” said Post-harvest technologies CEO Jim White. “Americans on Main Street don’t believe their hard-earned money will be used to solve real-world problems. Instead, they fear that the money will go to the ends of the political spectrum rather than to the middle, where deals are made.
Additionally, donations to political campaigns are not tax deductible, which takes at least one direct financial reason to support a campaign off the table.
“That said, you can get a tax deduction by donating to many nonprofit advocacy groups that promote the policies you support,” McMillan said. “On their donations page, these groups will indicate that donations are tax-deductible or that the nonprofit is a ‘501(c)(3)’ organization.
If you donate. . .
Once a decision is made to donate to a political campaign, do your due diligence before writing checks.
“Some great websites, like OpenSecrets and FollowTheMoney, let you see how contributions are being directed,” said White, whose company has developed relationships with politicians. “You can clearly see where a particular candidate’s money is coming from and the type of expenses incurred. This will allow you to ensure that your money is being well spent on a candidate you can trust.
It’s also a good idea to get to know your candidates.
“Don’t just accept their campaign ads, videos and marketing,” White noted. “Politicians should be willing to meet in person or over the phone to discuss your advocacy agenda. Be sure to make your voice heard and make sure they know who you are – and won’t forget you – when they are hopefully elected.