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Welcome to 2013! Barack Obama is still President of the United States. The U.S. Senate is still in Democratic hands. You could be forgiven for thinking not much has changed. You’d be wrong, as the numbers below show. Millions of Americans used ActBlue to show that their voice matters. While Mitt Romney was busy running down half of the country, many of them were busy ending his run. There are plenty of reasons why the election turned out the way it did, but you should never doubt your place among them.

Number of contributions 2,896,327
Total raised $136,497,244.45
Average Contribution size $47.13
Committees receiving money 3,895

 

Here’s what 2012 looks like compared to 2011 and 2008 (last presidential election year). Percentage change is year over year:

Screen Shot 2013-03-20 at 4.54.13 PM

Name Race Donors Dollars
DCCC Party Committee 1,127,706 $36,344,427
DSCC Party Committee 440,747 $18,644,200
Elizabeth Warren MA-Sen 98,331 $2,961,178
PCCC Organization 92,920 $1,160,340
CREDO SuperPAC SuperPAC 81,780 $2,295,125

Here are the five top committees, by number of donors, for 2012.

On ActBlue, August pushed us north of $12 million for the month and put the Big Number within striking distance of $300 million. That’s huge. And while the top 5 committees for August raised more than $6m of that total, none of them had an average donation size larger than $40. The rest of the $12 million went to nearly 2,000 other committees. There are around 500 races that get you a seat in Washington D.C., which means that 1,500 other candidates and committees are raising money through ActBlue.

Across the aisle, the folks at the top of the organization decide to drop huge sums of money on a few races. Over here, hundreds of thousands of donors give what they can to support thousands of candidates across the country. I don’t know if you’ve seen the polls lately, but it looks like our way is working a little bit better. And now, the numbers:

Number of contributions 309,877
Total raised $12,785,110.61
Average Contribution size $41.26
Committees receiving money 1,981

 

Here’s what August 2012 looks like compared to August 2011 and 2008 (last presidential election year). Percentage change is year over year:

August 2008 August 2011 August 2012 Change
Contributions 21,267 78,172 309,877 296%
Volume ($) $2,706,849.69 $3,051,815.13 $12,785,110.61 319%
Mean Donation $127.28 39.04 41.26 5%
Committees 1,068 916 1,981 116%

 

Here are the five top committees, by number of donors, for August 2012.

Name Race Donors Dollars
DCCC Party Committee 129,318 $4,215,738
DSCC Party Committee 40,678 $1,585,605
CREDO SuperPAC SuperPAC 16,120 $385,933
Democracy for America Organization 13,674 $274,859
Mazie Hirono HI-Sen 9,499 $227,671

Not only are the July numbers strong, they reflect how broad ActBlue has become. While the top 5 recipients make up a significant portion of July’s volume (~$4.5m) that leaves another ~$4m that flowing through ActBlue to smaller candidates, committees and causes. It’s evidence of the broad base of support that ActBlue represents, one that is changing the way people raise money. It couldn’t be more timely. And now, the numbers:

Number of contributions 200,247
Total raised $8,346,045.09
Average Contribution size $41.68
Committees receiving money 1,836

 

Here’s what July 2012 looks like compared to July 2011 and 2008 (last presidential election year). Percentage change is year over year:

July 2008 July 2011 July 2012 Change
Contributions 19,906 66,746 200,247 200%
Volume ($) $2,565,814.49 $2,678,159.69 $8,346,045.09 212%
Mean Donation $128.90 $40.12 $41.68 4%
Committees 1,043 861 1,836 113%

 

Here are the five top committees, by number of donors, for July 2012.

Name Race Donors Dollars
DCCC Party Committee 85,045 $2,695,553
DSCC Party Committee 31,359 $1,319,036
Elizabeth Warren MA-Sen 11,798 $241,687
Democracy for America Organization 8,575 $198,614
PCCC Organization 8,376 $119,989

Here’s the short version: $27 million sent to Democrats via ActBlue with an average donation under $50. That’s incredible. To put it in perspective, we tripled the amount of money we sent over the same period in 2011, and quadrupled the number of donations. We sent that money to twice as many campaigns. So when we talk about grassroots power, we’re talking 8 figures.

Number of contributions 582,951
Total raised $27,186,771.78
Average Contribution size $46.64
Committees receiving money 2,476

 

A for-profit company would love to take these numbers to their shareholders. Since we’re a non-profit, we’re bringing them to you. While 2012 is a presidential election year and that pushes the numbers upward, you can glance at our 2008 numbers to see how much we’ve grown over the interim.

Q2 2008 Q2 2011 Q2 2012 Change
Contributions 61,617 142,027 582,951 310%
Volume ($) $13,423,736.96 $9,110,160.70 $27,186,771.78 198%
Mean Donation $217.86 $64.14 $46.64 -27%
Committees 1,390 1,106 2,476 124%

 

Here are the five top committees, by number of donors, for Q2 2012.

Name Race Donors Dollars
DCCC Party Committee 182,345 $5,343,811
Tom Barrett WI-Gov 26,827 $2,010,889
DSCC Party Committee 46,091 $1,875,056
Democratic Party of Wisconsin Party Committee 45,048 $1,105,153
PCCC Organization 24,270 $244,764

Jonathan Martin has a story on POLITICO about the Republican edge in third-party spending. The argument runs as follows: conservative groups like American Crossroads, American Crossroads GPS, the Chamber of Commerce, and the constellation of powerbrokers Yahoo called the Shadow GOP have outspent outside Democratic groups. That's true. Where Martin errs is when he equates that with Democratic donor disengagement and disarray:

Liberal-leaning organizations answer that it’s not a matter of desire but something more simple: They don’t have the money.

And that’s partly because, even after the historic accomplishments of the current Congress, some on the left are unhappy that priorities, such as a climate change bill, weren’t passed.

That strikes me as a misreading of the situation. For those of you who are political traditionalists, I'll note that the major Democratic committees, (DNC, DSCC, DCCC) all raised more in August than the major Republican committees. The Democratic committees also spent more and have more cash on hand. 

If you're curious about how outside groups are doing, let's compare some quick numbers. According to Justin Elliott of Salon, American Crossroads raised $2.6M in August, with $2.4M of that coming from just three billionaires. In contrast, ActBlue sent $4.2M to 1,422 Democratic candidates and committees, via 34,000 donations. It's true that American Crossroads does something different than ActBlue–they'll be making ad buys. We won't. Instead, we'll be sending money to people who make ad buys. That seems like a fairly minor difference, from the perspective of Martin's argument.

There are two things at work here, and neither of them are donor unhappiness.

The first is a change (a change that Martin's editors have noted) in how individuals relate to large institutions that's become an essential part of the zeitgeist. The Tea Party derives its support from a claim to represent authentic conservative values, rather than compromised establishment mores. ActBlue makes a less-ideological pitch: we send your money where you tell us to send it–provided you're sending it to a Democrat. But both ideas feed off the zeitgeist in different ways, and represent a shift away from the more traditional conduits that Martin quotes in his story. But it's a shift, not a diminution.

Second, a major factor behind support for Republican groups like American Crossroads is the sheer disarray of the Steele-driven RNC. In the table I linked to above, the RNC is the only body with a negative change in cash on hand, and the Republicans have been forced to compensate. In short, it's not an apples-to-apples comparison. Martin examines the lagging indicator on the Democratic side and the leading indicator on the Republican side, and then concludes that Democrats are off their game.

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