A fundraiser for the Bernie Sanders campaign wrote a remarkable piece in Politico this week shedding light on a huge problem the Democrats have when it comes to grassroots, small-dollar donations.
Michael Whitney points out that while the left has always had the upper hand when it comes to this kind of small-ball political fundraising, Donald Trump and the RNC has absolutely dominated the Democrats in 2017. While the Republican National Committee raised $75 million over the first six months of 2017, the DNC has only taken in $38 million.
Among large, wealthy donors, the two factions are running neck and neck. But when it comes to those small donors – the ones who can only afford to give $10, $20, $50 at a time – the Republicans are running away with the show. And that, Whitney said, is the biggest indication of all that all this talk about a Democrat show of force in the 2018 elections is just that: Talk.
This isn’t just about money. Small-dollar donors are an important measure of how much grass-roots enthusiasm a campaign or organization has. They are the supporters who will show up to knock on doors, make phone calls and get out the vote. And since they don’t donate enough to reach campaigns’ individual contribution limits, you can return to ask them for money time and again—which frees campaigns from continually being on the hunt for new, deep-pocketed donors who can max out. The lack of their support threatens to prevent major gains by the party in 2018 and beyond.
According to Whitney, two things are happening simultaneously. One, the Republican Party, now under the nominal leadership of President Trump, is doing a phenomenal job at exactly the thing that Bernie Sanders was famous for: Inspiring average Americans who, while they may not have much money to give at any one time, are absolutely driven to help Trump succeed in any way they can. They are being reached with a positive, encouraging message, and that in turn translates into donations, volunteerism, word of mouth, and, of course, voting.
Two, the Democrats are doing just the opposite. Instead of learning from the Sanders campaign, they are besieging their donors with threatening (and often deceptive) messages that try to scare them into parting with their money. Every day, these would-be supporters get a new email telling them they must STAND UP to the EVIL Trump administration or it could mean the end for America! Many of these emails come with shady subject lines like “FINAL NOTICE” so that supporters will open the email, thinking they missed a bill payment or something. Shockingly, this carpet-bombing method of fundraising is not doing the Democratic Party any favors.
“Without a change,” Whitney writes, “the Democratic Party is going to keep losing to Donald Trump and the Republicans in the money race, big and small. It puts the party in a terrible financial position ahead of the 2018 midterms, and it sets up Trump’s campaign to have an unprecedented small-dollar fundraising operation for his reelection.”
On TV and in the pages of left-wing daily rags, the Democrats appear to be surging towards a wave election next year. Beneath this facade of propaganda, however, is a party that could be headed towards total extinction if they don’t turn things around – and fast.