What is impressive about Palin’s fundraising haul, however, is who it came from: the grassroots. Based on her FEC disclosures, I identified 406 donations worth $200 or more, which are worth a combined total of $289,932. That’s nothing, really: Home Shopping Club can bring in that much in 15 minutes selling vacuums. That leaves, however, $443,608, or 60 percent of SarahPac’s total, which came from small donors. That is a very high percentage — higher than for any of the ’08 presidential candidates but for Ron Paul — as you can see from this chart where I’ve colored Palin’s total in Misogynist Pink.
You don’t wind up with a number like that unless two things are happening: you are raising a lot of money from small donors and you specifically are not raising a lot of money from large, establishment donors. That, in a nutshell, is Palin’s story as she starts to compete against the GOP primary field. I’m not convinced that fundraising is actually going to be that much of a strength of hers in the primary: she’s going to have too much of the country club money soaked up by Mitt Romney (the general election might be a different story). But as Barack Obama discovered, small donors have a way of turning into activists and, ultimately, voters.