Archive

Tag Archives: netroots

In the wake of the upset in the GOP DE-Sen primary, there's been a lot of chatter about what the Tea Party means, vis-a-vis the Republican Party. One of the most compelling takes, in my opinion, is that the Tea Party represents a decentralized web of Republican supporters, and that decentralization is the cause of much of the intra-TP conflict and the difficulty the Republican establishment has in co-opting that passion and using it to benefit their preferred candidates (See: Grayson, Trey; Castle, Mike).

This isn't a new story, though it may be one the Republicans haven't heard yet. The Democratic Party has already undergone many of these changes. The growth of online communities like DailyKos, Democratic infrastructure like ActBlue, and eventually the Obama wave had a lot of inputs–minority status and the old saw about necessity and invention, frustration among the base and Americans broadly–but the key point is that growth was largely uncoordinated. The rebranding of the DNC is a recognition of that reality, Natalie Foster, the DNC's New Media Director, told TechPresident's Nancy Scola:

It's not just about the DNC anymore. It's about the Democratic Party. [...] This could become that something that any kid could
draw in chalk in front of their house, that any college kid could riff
on.

That was my first thought as well, which is why I was surprised to see Ben Smith snark "this will turn things right around." While we're only a few weeks out from the election, the point of changes like these isn't to tip the scales in pivotal house races, it's to build a party that is tune with the changing tenor of American life. The same could be said of the growth of grassroots fundraising, or the White House's embrace of non-traditional media outlets. (Also, in fairness, Ben picked up Nancy's take.)

To return to my original point, while there may be an equivalence in process between Democrats and Republicans, I don't mean to suggest an equivalence in content. The Republican embrace of Kristolismo over the past two years has radicalized their base in a way that the Democratic resurgence did not. Embracing a base conditioned by years of opportunistic fear-mongering about "socialism," Islam, the deficit and terrorism seems likely to produce legislative outcomes that are significantly less benign than the healthcare reform bill.

Ten years ago my AP Government teacher told me–with an indulgent smile for my youthful skepticism–that incumbent status was its own reward. Fundraising networks, establishment support, name recognition, high-powered surrogates; how, he asked, could an insurgent candidate hope to overcome these advantages? At first blush, the returns in Arkansas validate his certainty–Sen. Blanche Lincoln survived a primary challenge from Bill Halter and the coalition of progressive groups that backed him. 

The reality is a little more complex, however. What my teacher was trying to get a classroom full of adolescents to see was that structural forces often trump individual attributes. (This is a hard lesson to teach teenagers, who are all unique and obdurate souls.) What's interesting about the Halter/Lincoln race is that Halter, by all accounts no favored son of the Arkansas political establishment, was able to build a campaign in 8 weeks–a campaign that forced a sitting senator into a runoff election the she won by only a few thousand votes.*

There's a structural change that explains the viability Halter's challenge: the rise of fast, effective online fundraising. In the 48 hours after he announced, Halter hit $1,000,000, raised from tens of thousands of individual donors. On ActBlue alone, he raised over 1.2M via 40,000 individual contributions over the course of his campaign. In fact, many of the Democrats who won elected office over the last two cycles used their online fundraising success to gain traction in more traditional political fora. 

That's what we built ActBlue to do. By providing a non-ideological space where Democrats can raise money online, we're enabling new Democratic voices to emerge and establish themselves in ways that simply weren't possible before. Today I'd like to set to one side the many senators and representatives who cut their teeth in national politics using ActBlue (Sestak, Hagan, Tester, McCaskill, et al), and focus on the groups involved in the AR-Sen race.

Much of Halter's online haul came from members of MoveOn, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), Democracy for America (DFA) and the DailyKos community. That's a remarkably young list. MoveOn is far and away the eminence grise, a digital dinosaur whose pedigree stretches all the way back to the late 90s. DfA is younger, growing out of Howard Dean's '04 run, and the PCCC was founded in '09 by MoveOn and AFL-CIO alums (the latter being another major player in Halter's race). In 8 weeks they were able to raise millions for a will-he-won't-he candidate whose name had been floated for just about every office in Arkansas. Their fundraising propelled him into the national spotlight, and gave him the resources he needed to run a remarkably successful campaign against a sitting senator. 

As the editors of POLITICO have noted, Arkansas and Pennsylvania aren't isolated events. This change isn't restricted to one state, or one race. Our platform supports candidates in every state and at every level of politics, providing Democrats with an ample proving ground for promising candidates. ActBlue monetized Democratic passion; our platform made Democratic fundraising more democratic. Party leaders understand the power that transformation represents, and now the repercussions are making themselves felt in our country's highest offices.

*Had she lost, she would've been the third Senator to lose her seat in a primary this cycle, a figure that hasn't been matched in the last 30 years. That's how rare these upsets are. 

Welcome to the latest installment of our monthly stats reports. The summer months are filled with Democratic primaries, but before we get into them we’d like to take a look back at the month of May. With major Democratic contests taking place in Arkansas and Pennsylvania, it’s been a busy month on ActBlue. Let’s dig in:

First, the May 2010 Overview.

Number of contributions 40,130
Total raised $4,111,081.87
Average contribution size $102.44
Committees receiving money 1,304
Fundraising pages receiving money 1,080
Fundraising pages created 733

 

May 2008 May 2010 Change
Contributions 18,674 40,130 115%
Volume ($) $3,603,205 $4,111,081 14%
Mean Donation $192.95 $102.44 -47%
Committees 885 1,304 47%
Pages Created 516 733 42%
Pages w/ Money 611 1,080 77%

 

As in previous months, the number of contributions doubled relative to 2008, with impressive growth in dollar volume, fundraising page activity, and the number of individual candidates in committees receiving money through ActBlue.

Here are the Top 10 Campaigns & Committees for May 2010 (by donors).

Name Race Donors Raised
Bill Halter AR-Sen, 2010 12,947 $407,551.28
Joe Sestak PA-Sen, 2010 4,377 $256,022.07
PCCC Organization 2,106 $19,910.82
Democracy for America Organization 2,048 $17,670.50
Ann McLane Kuster NH-02, 2010 1,319 $17,986.56
David Segal RI-01, 2010 1,229 $51,818.80
Jack Conway KY-Sen, 2010 1,171 $49,504.13
Mark Critz PA-12, 2010 967 $107,807.95
Marcy Winograd CA-36, 2010 942 $19,397.19
Gavin Newsom CA-Lt Gov, 2010 741 $201,321.00

 

In May, AR-Sen. challenger Bill Halter was the top candidate on ActBlue by both total donors and dollars raised. Lifted by a contested primary with national attention, Halter was the focus of online fundraising from a multitude of sources which included the support of fellow Top 10 groups–the PCCC and Democracy for America. A major primary battle against Sen. Arlen Specter powered Rep. Joe Sestak into the #2 spot, and the special election for Rep. Murtha’s seat brought fellow PA candidate Mark Critz into the #7 berth. An engaged Netroots community pushed Kentucky senate hopeful Jack Conway up to #6. California’s early June primary saw Lt. Gov candidate Gavin Newsom and congressional candidate Marcy Winograd safely into the #9-10 slots. 

We’ll a number of these candidates again when we look at the Top 10 Fundraising Pages (by donors) for May 2010:

Name Donors Raised Average
pccchalterfield 3063 $51,707.57 $16.88
supportbillhalter 1780 $38,937.50 $21.87
orangetoblue2010 1263 $89,891.95 $71.17
halterpoll 989 $15,756.00 $15.93
supportjoesestak 752 $28,186.20 $37.48
davidsegalpccc 624 $10,122.51 $16.22
newsom0522 590 $141,244.00 $239.39
billhalter 572 $11,692.60 $20.44
2010pccc 563 $15,447.42 $27.43
critzdccc 555 $57,405.00 $103.43

 

Looking at these successful pages, all linked above, we see three that make use of our support for embedded video, four with ActBlue’s fundraising goal based thermometers, and three that have branded ActBlue pages. We can see how fundraising for candidates as a group can create a halo effect; organizations that include themselves on fundraising pages tend to earn funds of their own in conjunction with their supported candidates. 

To learn more about fundraising pages and how to start your own, click here.

Certificate

It's been a couple of very busy weeks at ActBlue, but I wanted to take a moment to thank our friends at Roots Camp 2010 for awarding us the Most Valuable Technology certificate. The nomination and award were as welcome as they were unexpected. For our part, we're not planning to rest on our multicolored laurels–in 2010, we plan to earn the title of MVT several times over.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 42 other followers