Tea Party candidates getting massive cash infusion from small donors

Surprisingly, almost none of them appear to be the foreigners about whom Barack Obama keeps warning us:

When it comes to Tea Party candidates — small donors are emerging as a major force. Their contributions — $200 or less — are arriving in mass numbers.

“The small donor trend for Tea Partiers is unprecedented,” says Sheila Krumholz of the Center for Responsive Politics. Her group analyzed the most recent campaign donation numbers available from the Federal Elections Commission. …

Typically, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Senate candidates get no more than 20 percent of their funds from small donors. But the latest numbers available from the Federal Elections Commission for some Tea Party favorites show much higher stats.

As of the second quarter, small donors filled about one-third of the campaign chests of Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey (30 percent, $3 million) and Florida’s Marco Rubio (36 percent, $4.6 million). They accounted for nearly half of the funds for Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell (45 percent, $119,000) and Kentucky’s Rand Paul (46 percent, $1.6 million). And they made up more than half of the early donations given to Alaska’s Joe Miller (51 percent, $144,000) and Nevada’s Sharron Angle (58 percent $2.05 million).

This appears to negate the notion that the Tea Party is a corporate-driven movement.  This shows that the Tea Party is a true grassroots movement, one with a significant amount of power.  In fact, what is most interesting is the early support given to these candidates by small donors in races where establishment candidates had more ability to tap into establishment sources of funding, including Angle, Miller, Rubio, and Paul.  Tea Party support trumped establishment and corporate influence, rather than masking it.

The Tea Party didn’t get these candidates into position for victory on their own, of course.  As CBS News reports, the Club for Growth played a big role as well, and should be commended for their efforts.  However, the Club has played in the field for over a decade, and had not seen the kind of success it has now until the Tea Party movement caught fire.  The Club backed Toomey in the 2004 Republican primary, as people will recall, only to lose to Arlen Specter after George Bush threw his support behind the incumbent, followed by the GOP establishment.

The difference this year is the involvement and engagement of fiscal conservatives among the electorate.  They have put their money on the line to get the kind of candidates who can reverse the big-government trends of the last several decades.  That’s what has Democrats scared in the final two weeks of the midterms — not foreign influence, but a massive wave of domestic anger that will throw them out of power.