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Small donations not paying off for Bachmann

A New York Times story about Michele Bachmann’s financing concerns notes that her penchant for raising lots of money from many small donations — which worked wonders in her congressional campaigns — may not be working so well in a national race.

Says the story:

When Mrs. Bachmann entered the race, the conventional wisdom — which the campaign did not discourage — was that her proven ability to raise a record-setting $13.5 million for her 2010 re-election to the House meant she would never have to worry about money.

But what campaign insiders understood was that small donations were a low-yield game, because of the high cost of direct mail. [Former advisor Ed] Rollins estimated that Mrs. Bachmann netted only $3 million to $4 million in 2010, and from that she seeded her presidential campaign with $2 million. She quickly raised another $2.2 million with an average donation of $48, according to the campaign.

But like every candidate who hopes to remain in the race long-term, she needs to tap wealthy individuals able to donate the legal maximum of $2,500 per person in the nominating contest and to “bundle” donations from their social and business networks.

About 160 people contributed the maximum to Mrs. Bachmann in 2010, for a total of $763,000, according to campaign filings — much less than needed for a drawn-out presidential campaign.

The story quotes sources who say Bachmann doesn’t want to make cold calls to potential donors herself, preferring that hired staff handle that task.

But a campaign spokesperson disputed that: “Michele makes fund-raising calls every day,” Alice Stewart said.

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