Public records show that Romney's direct campaign fund raising is made up mostly by maximum limit donations at $2,500. His super PAC, however, sees much larger contributions. Richard Marriott and Bill Marriott Jr., heirs to the Marriott Hotel empire, have each donated $1 million to "Restore Our Future" in support of Mitt Romney. Bob Perry, a real estate mogul in Texas, has donated $4 million to the super PAC. John Paulson, a Goldman Sachs banker worth $12.4 billion and ranked No. 17 on the "Forbes 400" list, has both personally donated $1 million to the super PAC, and has also hosted a large fund raiser for the candidate that undoubtedly funneled donations into "Restore Our Future" coffers.
These are just a few of the ultra-rich that have personally contributed to the Romney-backing super PAC, and more contributions of this magnitude are sure to be on the horizon, especially considering that five months still remain between now and the election and upheaval over multiple issues project the 2012 election to be a close race.
College students, on the other hand, are unable to go toe-to-toe with billionaires like John Paulson, donations-wise. Students are typically working with a tight budget and only have a few dollars to spare at a time. This may not have stopped them in 2008--college students donated nearly $2 million to campaigns during just the first six months of the '08 election cycle. The upcoming election has shown a different story.
The last major publication of student donations data, collected by the Center for Responsive Politics in late 2011, tallied roughly $860,000 in total campaign contributions from college students, a steep early-cycle drop-off from 2008. Students are contributing less and less to presidential campaigns while millionaires and billionaires are donating more money individually than ever before.
With a hike in student loan interest rates looming large in July, the national student body needs stand together as one voice to make sure their interests are aligned with whomever takes office in Washington come November. But money talks.
Without contribution limits, big donors will turn to super PACs more consistently to help their candidate gain an edge as the election draws near, both as means to flex their spending power to gain a foothold in influencing government policy, and as a last-ditch effort to match Obama's fund raising machine. The younger generation, unfortunately, will be left in the dust.