When Jeb Bush’s campaign filed its first financial disclosure, some people focused on how a mere 3 percent of his donations—just $368,000 of the $11.4 million he collected in his first 15 days of campaigning—came from donors who gave $200 or less. That’s a very small amount. By contrast, Bernie Sanders raised 68 percent of his $15.4 million from small donors. Even for a Republican presidential candidate, the paltry amount raised from small donors is striking. In 2012, for example, Mitt Romney’s campaign got 18 percent of its money from donors giving $200 or less.
But perhaps an even more telling figure is how much money Bush’s campaign got from very rich people. We don’t know exactly how rich, but we do know that in the last election, just 0.04 percent of Americans donated the maximum of $2,600 to a candidate (donors can give twice that much if they donate to a candidate for both the primary and general election). And Bush’s filing today reveals that an astonishing $9.3 million—or 81 percent of his total haul—came from people donating $2,700, the inflation-adjusted equivalent of last year’s maximum.
Many Democratic and Republican campaigns look to an elite group of wealthy donors for backing. But what sets Bush apart is that he’s almost entirely funded by them.