The Trap That Bernie Sanders Has Laid For Himself 2


Bernie Sanders wants people to know that he is raising campaign funds only through small donations. He does not seek money from billionaires. To prove his point he quotes the average donation size.

In what may be a cynical ploy on Hillary Clinton’s part, she is asking people to donate only one dollar to her campaign. This will skew any single statistical number she can quote to compare her donations with Bernie’s. Her comparison number will start to look a lot like Bernie’s number, but the situations could not be more different.

Here is a comparison between two different, simple scenarios. I hope this demonstrates the trap that Bernie has laid for himself by accustoming people to look at the size of the average donation as an indicator of what type of people are funding his campaign.

Comparing two contribution scenarios

In the upper example we have 1,000,000 people contributing $1, and no large contributions (in this example – no other contributions). So all one million people have an equal financial influence on the campaign.

In the lower example there are 500,000 people contributing $1, and one person contributing $500,000. Obviously the one large contributor has as much financial influence on the campaign as the other 500,000 contributors combined.

The top example has an average contribution of $1, whereas the bottom example has an average of $2. In both cases, the median is the same. In other words half the people contribute a dollar or less, and half the people contributed a dollar or more. However, in terms of influence of large donors, the situation could hardly be more different.

In the top example, 100% of the money raised came from people donating $1. In the bottom case, only 50% of the money raised comes from people donating $1, and 50% come from 1 person donating $500,000. Could Bernie start using this type of comparison to ward off the his trap that Hillary is about to spring on him?


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2 thoughts on “The Trap That Bernie Sanders Has Laid For Himself

  • SteveG Post author

    Chris, How does he win a “he said – she said” match? If you look at the example I laid out, he says, “My average contribution is $1”. She says “My average donation is $2. So Bernie and I are raising money in similar way.”

    You have exactly stated the point of the post. He has to start talking about what part of his donations come from the small donors. In other words, as I stated, Bernie should say “100% of the money I have raised come from $1 givers, and none come from higher donations. Only 50% of the money Hillary raised comes from small donations. The other half of what she has raised comes from 1 big donor.”

    This is not the way he speaks about his donations now. As Dr. Math, you know the difference. What about all the people who suffer from innumeracy? What do you think they will get when Hillary claims that she is raising money just like Bernie does and she has the numbers to prove it?

    Why leave it to chance that people figure out how the similar numbers they both quote are actually vastly different? With not too many more words, Bernie can erase the possibility that Hillary can bamboozle people on this topic.

    Why wait to clarify what is being said, when he can take preemptive action to cut off the possibility of this ploy working? You have said before that it is best to get to people’s thinking first, rather than having to undo what they have already decided and switch over to your side.

  • Christopher Horton

    It’s not a trap but a ploy.
    The point has already been made, he wins a “he-said she-said” match because people don’t trust her. Exposing what she’s doing makes her look petty, conniving and desperate. Which is not too far off the mark!
    There is still the statistics of what part of the total donations came from people donating over $1000 or donating the limit.
    She wins a “donate $1” contest if the cost of donating a dollar is more than a dollar. But Bernie will still win on number of donors. People who will donate $1 will donate $3, just not as often.