The nearly $1 million raised by Sarah Palin’s political action committee this year is not in itself all that impressive, writes Nate Silver for FiveThirtyEight.com. After all, her figures are dwarfed by Republican players with significantly less star power. But Palin’s fundraising numbers reveal a true strength: A full 60% of her total comes from donations under $200.
That’s a higher percentage of grassroots donors than any ’08 presidential candidate except Ron Paul, Silver notes. Palin will probably need to court more large donors to be truly competitive in a GOP primary—but her PAC has built a small-donor base of the kind Barack Obama was able to turn into a core of volunteers and activists worth far more than their individual contributions.