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A penny for the guy, a hundred bucks for Ron Paul

Independent activists propose a strange reason for a campaign donation push... but it seems to be working

November 5 is Guy Fawkes Night in the United Kingdom. It commemorates the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, an attempt to blow up the Palace of Westminster and overthrow the government of James I.

Summary of Nov. 5 donations to the Ron Paul 2008 presidential campaign
Summary of Nov. 5 donations to the Ron Paul 2008 presidential campaign
I think it's a darn strange thing for political activists in the United States to be using Guy Fawkes Night as an excuse for a special event in a Presidential campaign, but that's just what some Ron Paul advocates have done.

Perhaps echoing the traditional childrens' request for "a penny for the guy" to buy fireworks, these advocates-- without the support of the official Ron Paul campaign organization-- have been exhorting other supporters to make $100 donations to the campaign today. The donations are going through the regular channels (a donation page on the campaign's website), so this isn't a scam, but I still think it's pretty weird. In fact, I said so a few times when people asked me about it. I think it isn't entirely appropriate to be connecting a legitimate political campaign with a 400-year-old act of insurrection.

But I guess a lot of other people think it's okay, because the donations have been pouring in. As I write this, we're still nine hours away from the end of the day here in California, but the day's total is already in excess of $2.7 million, and donations continue to arrive at the rate of $200,000 per hour.

(As an aside, the fact that these figures are available at all says a lot about the integration of computer technology with political campaigning. The Ron Paul organization offers a live feed of donation records which is summarized in real time on

The campaign itself seems a little unprepared for this whole thing; in a blog post earlier today, campaign fundraising director Jonathan Bydlak didn't even mention the Guy Fawkes connection. But he did say that the amount raised so far is already a record for Republican online fundraising, and it looks like the day's total will exceed what Bydlak says is the all-time record for single-day fundraising: $3.1 million.

It's all pretty amazing, anyway.

[Update: the graph showed just over $4 million as of midnight East Coast time, but the Ron Paul campaign told the Associated Press that the actual figure is somewhere in excess of $4.2 million from over 37,000 individual donors. Apparently there's some data loss in that real-time feed...]