Contributions from individuals and political action committees that adhere to the limits and disclosure requirements of federal campaign finance law. The contrast is with soft money.
The most politically vulnerable first-term House Democrats may have run against the campaign finance status quo in 2018, but they are proving themselves adept at exploiting the system for 2020.
Of the 43 freshmen already identified as targets by the House Republican campaign operation, only eight raised less than $300,000 in the first three months of this year, Politico reports. And none of them raised less than Republicans who have already launched challenger campaigns.
Democrats have a 19-seat majority, and the solid early fundraising by their vulnerable freshmen is one indication the party will have the resources necessary to defend its control.
The biggest funding haul among the newcomers was $874,000 by Josh Harder, who narrowly ousted GOP incumbent Jeff Denham last year in a central California district that is a presidential battleground. Five others, all of whom also ousted sitting Republican House members in purple or red-tinged districts, raised more than $500,000: Antonio Delgado and Max Rose of New York; Joe Cunningham of South Carolina; Katie Hill of California; and Lizzie Pannill Fletcher of Texas.
There's a newly bipartisan dimension to the vast pool of presidential campaign cash, the ever-expanding ocean of money that's cited more often than anything as a root cause of our democracy's travails.
What's different this year, however, is how small-dollar gifts are dominating the deposits in so many of the top-tier candidates' bank accounts – and vying for attention with the donations from millionaires and corporate interests engendering sustained worries about the pay-to-play aspects of American government.
President Trump's reelection campaign is the latest to boast of a huge trove of small donations. Today it reported a haul of $30 million in the first quarter of this year, 99 percent of it in gifts of $200 or less. The average gift has been $34 and money came between January and March from more than 100,000 people who'd never given to Trump before.