But the rules are what the rules are, and we can’t bring a spork to a gunfight. Thus, it is with great pleasure to see that this traditional Republican advantage is all but gone. Let’s start with the best part—small dollar fundraising.
Fun fact: Daily Kos was the first place to adopt ActBlue as our fundraising platform back in 2005. I was terrified of using them! What if it was a scam! Or what if it was a well-intentioned but doomed effort? Well, 15 years later, we get this:
- 17.55 million contributions
- $533.2 million raised (!!!)
- Average contribution $30.38
- 4.34 million unique contributors
- Almost 11,000 organizations and campaigns on the platform
To stress, that’s half a billion dollars raised in three months. The first three months of the year!
Republicans have tried time and time again to launch their own ActBlue, and after repeated failures, finally got their current grifty version—WinRed. With impeached president Donald Trump’s backing, the national Republican Party has forced all of its campaigns on it. So, with the combined might of the GOP establishment and Trump himself, here’s how it compares to ActBlue:
Their response to that massive fundraising disparity?
Not sure how having 1/4th the fundraising of Democratic campaigns means that “energy is on the side of Republicans in 2020,” but then again, Trump’s GOP doesn’t really care much about reality or truth or accuracy. So that’s that. And if you wonder how much Trump himself helps with this fundraising? The answer is hilariously “not much at all.”
What this means, ultimately, is that Democratic candidates, up and down the ballot, are dramatically outraising their Republican counterparts. Or as Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy told his colleagues, Democrats are “kicking our ass.” Amen.
Now let’s look at the major party committees, which are more likely to be funded by big money, as contribution limits are much higher.
In the chart below, “March” means the amount raised last month. “COH” means “cash on hand,” or how much money they have in the bank. The numbers are in millions of dollars.
|National Party: DNC|RNC||32.7||36.1||23.8||77.1|
|Senate Committee: DSCC|NRSC||11||24.9||9.1||32.5|
|Senate Super pacs: SMP|SLF||7.4||56.8||11.2||51.8|
|House Committee: DCCC|NRCC||14.3||80.7||11.6||48.8|
|House Super pacs: HMP|CLF||2.9||41.9||n/a||30.4|
|Presidential SUPER PACS||14.1||28||n/a||25.4|
Donald Trump and his super PAC, America First Action, have a hefty 2-1 cash lead on Joe Biden, but that should narrow dramatically in the coming months. (For context, Hillary Clinton and her super PAC outraged Trump 2-1 in 2016. Money isn’t everything.)
The national parties are also lopsided in the GOP’s direction—with the Republican National Committee holding a 2-1 cash advantage over the Democratic National Committee despite an $18 million cash infusion from the Michael Bloomberg campaign last month. Otherwise, things would look even worse.
However, things look much better when looking at the Congress-focused party committees. The Senate committees and their associated super PACs (Senate Majority Project for the Democrats, and Mitch McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund for the Republicans) have virtual parity, befitting a chamber that is 50-50 in terms of who will control it next year.
But House Democrats are running laps around their hapless Republican counterparts, with a $122.6 million to $79.2 million advantage when adding up both the party committees and their allied super PACs. And that gap is only growing by the month.
Altogether the Democratic Party, its committees, and Joe Biden have a collective $300.1 million cash in hand, compared to $364.5 million for Donald Trump and his party apparatus. It’s a deficit, for sure, but not the kind of advantage Republicans have traditionally held in their big-money apparatus.
Of course, there are other super PACs that will be playing this year, many flush with cash. The conservative super PACs Club for Growth is sitting on $17.3 million, while the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity has $21.9 million. On the liberal side, the League of Conservation voters has $19.2 million, and organized labor, as always, should prove to be prolific supporters of Democratic candidates everywhere.
As of now, Republicans hold a decent fundraising advantage in the party machinery, but expect that to disappear in the months ahead now that we have a nominee and can focus on general-election fundraising, rather than having focus split among a large field of primary candidates.
The GOP billionaires who once dominated political giving have been overcome by a new generation of liberal billionaires more than making up the difference, including now-familiar names like Tom Steyer and Mike Bloomberg. Of the top 10 individual donors in the country, eight of the top 10 are liberal, including the top four, and 28 of the top 50.
Again, this isn’t to celebrate the influence of billionaire donors in our politics, because the hell with that. But it shows that a system that was built to benefit conservatives is no longer allowing them to dominate the fundraising charts. If they no longer have a clear advantage, it makes it easier to change the system. No one agrees to change a system that strongly benefits them.
We crush conservatives in small-dollar political donations, 4 to 1. We have near-parity with the big-dollar party committees and super PACs (and we’ll eventually have parity or more). Our billionaires now outnumbers theirs.
If we win elections and control the Supreme Court, we can change this misbegotten system. But as it stands, it’s a good place to be heading into the election.
Nothing will change for the better until we take power. And we’ll have the money to contest the ballot, from top to bottom.