As for Huckabee’s pledge to raise his funds from regular Americans making small donations, there’s both good news and bad news for him on that front. Although the total number of donors to federal candidates and political committees is declining (even as the cost of elections continues to rise) and larger donors seem to be growing more important, there are nevertheless strong networks of conservative grassroots donors. Organizations like Club for Growth and Senate Conservatives Fund have been raising large sums, both from large donors to their super PACs and from vast numbers of donors who contribute small amounts that the groups then pass on to candidates they support.
In 2014, Club For Growth’s PAC raised $2.8 million from individual donors to its PAC and passed $2.2 million onto candidates in the last cycle. That same cycle, Club For Growth’s super PAC raised $9.3 million, albeit from a much smaller number of donors, many of whom rank high in the ranks of the .01 percent of American political contributors — like hedge fund manager Robert Mercer, who donated $1.1 million to the group. The super PAC spent those millions on ads supporting Republican candidates like Chris McDaniel who were running to the right of the GOP establishment.
The bad news, for Huckabee, is that as vibrant as those outside-the-establishment conservative groups and their networks of smaller donors are, they are unlikely to be available to Huckabee. Club For Growth’s super PAC spent $100,000 on television ads attacking him on his first day as a candidate for raising taxes when he was governor of Arkansas.