- The Maine Wire - https://www.themainewire.com -

Bellows fundraising report raises questions about candidate’s financial support

bellows logoDemocrat Shenna Bellows has raised more than $750,000 for her Senate campaign — a fact her campaign has attributed to broad grassroots support.

“Even having raised ¾ of a million dollars in total, our average donation this quarter was only $52.53,” Bellows’ campaign manager Katie Mae Simpson said in an April 10 press release.

But according to a review of Federal Election Commission filings, the campaign’s “average donation” statistic may be a misleading indicator of how the campaign has gotten its money.

FEC records show that many of Bellows most significant donors have made multiple donations. As a result, the difference between Bellows’ “average donation” and “average donation per contributor” is quite large.

For example:

In all of these instances, a significant donor made a smaller contribution which deflated the “average donation” statistic the Bellows campaign is touting. For example, if one calculates the average donation from the cohort listed above, the number is $1078.44. (This is how the Bellows campaign is calculating their average donation.) But if you calculate the average sum given by each individual donor, the number is $2,156.88 — twice as much. This limited example shows the difference between “average donation” and “average donation per contributor,” and may explain why the Bellows campaign prefers to focus on the former.

Reached by telephone, a spokeswoman for the Bellows campaign declined to comment on the record and instead emailed a written statement attributed to Katie Mae Simpson:

“In over 5 months, Shenna has raised almost twice as much money in small dollar contributions as Republican Susan Collins has in over 5 years, once again highlighting the grassroots support for Shenna’s campaign.”

Having a low average donation is appealing to voters at a time when concern over money’s influence on politics is running high. But if taken out of context, the statistic paints an unrealistic and potentially misleading portrait of who is funding a campaign.