Colin Allred, a former NFL player now in his third term in the U.S. House, plans to give up a safe Texas seat to take on Ted Cruz for the U.S. Senate in 2024. He is probably Democrats’ best hope to challenge the Republican incumbent. While his bid, announced Wednesday, is a long shot, Allred’s candidacy is proof that the torrent of money involved in political campaigns, and specifically the huge number of small-scale donations, has been a boon for American democracy.

A lot of people have been critical of the unprecedented sums of cash that even U.S. House campaigns now raise from donors who give under $200. The surge in small donations, especially in non-presidential elections, has occurred over the last decade thanks to the ease of online fundraising. Raphael Warnock raised a staggering $81 million from small donors in 2022, about 45 percent of the total, during his successful quest for one of Georgia’s Senate seats. Plenty of House candidates in that election cycle raised $2 million or even $3 million that way – far more, in all cases, than such candidates could raise from all sources before fundraising went online.

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