As White House contenders roll up their sleeves for a fourth quarter of fever-pitch fundraising, several candidates are turning not only to wealthy political benefactors, but small-dollar donors they hope will help sustain their campaigns in the final stretch.
Presidential candidates to date have raised $420 million combined, and much of it has come from affluent donors who have already hit their $2,300 per candidate contribution limit for the primary.
The candidates are now inviting low-dollar donors to events that won’t break the bank, in hopes that they will be able to contact these donors again for more pick-me-up contributions before the primaries.
Barack Obama took this route Monday in Los Angeles, where he filled a concert hall for an evening with him and The Goo Goo Dolls. The asking price for tickets was $25 for students and $50 for everyone else — and the cut-rate price raked in nearly $500,000 for the Democratic candidate.
In late September, Hillary Clinton held a block party in Oakland, Calif., with tickets going for as low as $20. Bill Clinton also scheduled a fundraiser for his wife in Philadelphia Tuesday night, with tickets starting at $25.
And GOP candidate Rudy Giuliani offered $100 seats for his dinner fundraiser in Lancaster, Calif., in September.
For many voters, it’s a welcome and inviting change from the $1,000-a-seat fundraisers that often sustain presidential campaigns.
“It used to be that big money talked — well, now small money is talking and it’s super-loud,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember Eric Garcetti.
Obama supporter Marlys Davidson said the affordable events make the campaigns more inclusive.
“I really appreciate it. I have gotten so many alerts over the Internet that say if you've got $2,000, you can come to a dinner,” Davidson said. “This gives you an opportunity to get to be close to the candidates, feel the energy of the crowd, the excitement of the crowd. It’s the democratic process."
And while these events don’t always bring in a windfall of immediate cash, they can pay dividends in the long run.
“For $100 you get somebody to make a small investment — small in political terms — in the hopes that with a lot of numbers, with 2,000 people giving hundreds of dollars, you are still collecting a nice piece of change,” said FOX News contributor Susan Estrich. “And you get their names, addresses, e-mail addresses and phone numbers for purposes of future donations.”
So far, Clinton and Obama have far outpaced any Republican frontrunner in fundraising.
In the third quarter alone, Clinton raised $22 million for the primaries, and Obama raised $19 million. Giuliani reported just over $10 million for that three-month period.
But while campaigns are shifting toward collecting bundles of smaller donations, experts say potent high-dollar contributors will likely continue to get the lion’s share of attention from the frontrunners.
FOX News' Jon Brady contributed to this report.