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Candidates replaced organizations on the leaderboard in June, as Wisconsin state senate candidates received support in advance of July’s recall elections. Stay tuned for our end of quarter summary tomorrow, which will outline the shape of Democratic giving on ActBlue in the second quarter of this year.

Number of contributions 57,679
Total raised $3,852,947.56
Average Contribution size $66.80
Committees receiving money 862
Fundraising pages receiving money 945
Pages created 505

 

Here’s how those numbers stack up relative to 2009, and to the same point in the last presidential election cycle (2007). Change is calculated with 2009 as the baseline.

Jun 2007 Jun 2009 Jun 2011 Change
Contributions 15,033 19,490 57,679 196%
Volume ($) $2,063,208.94 $3,880,980.16 $3,852,947.56 -.7%
Mean Donation $137.25 $199.13 $66.80 -66%
Committees 354 617 862 39%

 

Here are the five top committees, by number of donors, for June 2011.

Name Race Donors Dollars
PCCC Organization 11,829 $106,416
Democracy for America Organization 9,839 $121,607
Jessica King WI-SD-18 7,643 $74,841
Shelly Moore WI-SD-10 7,302 $51,393
Sandy Pasch WI-SD-08 7,298 $52,408

The first quarter of the 2011-12 election cycle is on the books, and it’s a doozy. We saw a massive uptick in contributions relative to previous cycles, driven by the backlash against Gov. Walker’s union-busting in Wisconsin. That drove a precipitous drop in the average contribution size relative to 2009, which was made starker by a higher-than-usual contribution size in 2009 thanks to inaugural events. All in all, the trends are exactly what we want to see: more money, coming from more people and going to more Democrats.

Number of contributions 180,547
Total raised $8,715,611.77
Average Contribution size $48.27
Committees receiving money 881
Fundraising pages receiving money 974
Pages created 1,029

 

And here’s how those numbers stack up to the last few cycles. Remember that we offer 2007 as a benchmark for a pre-presidential off-year and 2009 to illustrate cycle over cycle growth:

Q1 2007 Q1 2009 Q1 2011 Change
Contributions 31,441 24,361 180,547 641%
Volume ($) $3,141,038.27 $5,343,772.70 $8,715,611.77 63%
Mean Donation $99.90 $219.36 $48.27 -78%
Committees 235 651 881 35%
Pages Created 346 1,026 1,029 .3%
Pages w/ Money 203 684 974 13%

 

 
And here are the five top committees, ranked by number of donors, for Q1 2011.

Name Race Donors Dollars
PCCC Organization 61,542 $691,584
Democracy for America Organization 44,767 $503,841
Democratic Party of Wisconsin Organization 43,595 $1,099,087
Wisconsin State Senate Democratic Committee Organization 30,726 $768,067
PCCC Recall Committee Organization 25,481 $267,919

 

Here, as everywhere else this quarter, we see organizations dominating the field as political campaigns have yet to ramp up. Those organizations, in turn, are laying the groundwork that will make them valuable allies when the horse race gets underway in earnest.

As I mentioned last month, Wisconsin is the story of 2011 so far. In late February, Republican Gov. Scott Walker attempted to undermine a core Democratic constituency by revoking the right of public workers to bargain collectively, ostensibly for budgetary reasons. When Democratic state senators fled the state to deny him the legislative quorum required to pass a budgetary measure, Wisconsin Republicans declared that it didn’t impact the budget and passed the law without warning in a five minute session. Recently, a Wisconsin judge blocked the law’s implementation. Talking Points Memo has a useful timeline of events.

The immediate result of Gov. Walker’s overreach was a huge surge in Democratic fundraising and the initiation of recall proceedings against vulnerable Wisconsin Republicans. As Greg Sargent noted, the first completed recall petition tied the record for the fastest recall petition in Wisconsin history. The momentum on the ground is more than matched by the fundraising numbers. In March alone, ActBlue processed $3.7 million worth of donations to Wisconsin Democrats and allied groups. Add in the numbers from February and the total climbs north of $4 million. That’s a lot of cheddar, and its impact is reflected in our March fundraising numbers:

Number of contributions 143,034
Total raised 5,854,848.89
Average Contribution size $40.93
Committees receiving money 673
Fundraising pages receiving money 731
Pages created 490

 

As you’ll see below, the donations in Wisconsin were primarily by grassroots donors, who drove huge growth in the number of contributions and lowered our average donation size.

Mar 2007 Mar 2009 Mar 2011 Change
Contributions 21,912 11,438 143,034 1150%
Volume ($) $1,998,288.74 $2,765,316.89 $5,854,848.89 113%
Mean Donation $91.20 $241.77 $40.93 -83%
Committees 189 440 673 53%
Pages Created 158 452 490 8%
Pages w/ Money 164 412 731 77%

 

 
And here are the five top committees, by number of donors, for March 2011.

Name Race Donors Dollars
PCCC Organization 54,371 $576,408
Democratic Party of Wisconsin Organization 43,598 $1,099,121
Democracy for America Organization 41,323 $462,030
PCCC Recall Committee (Wisconsin) Organization 25,483 $267,944
MoveOn.org Political Action Organization 24,191 $364,237

 

The fact that March fundraising was driven primarily by organizations is a reflection of how big the stakes are in Wisconsin. Gov. Walker’s attack on collective bargaining isn’t just about undermining a core Democratic constituency (though it’s about that too); it’s about redistributing wealth (and thus political power) upward, away from workers and public servants and thereby diminishing their voice in the political process. Organizing and funding resistance to that overriding Republican goal is too big a job for any one candidate, so state and national organizations stepped in to help shoulder the load.

At ActBlue, our mission is to give grassroots donors a powerful voice in our democracy, so we were happy to put our tools at their disposal. We’re about democratizing power, and this is how we do it.

The story of February (and, it seems likely, March) was Wisconsin. In many ways, Wisconsin is a perfect example of what ActBlue can do. When the story first broke, there was little hint that the conflict between Gov. Walker and Democrats in the state senate would escalate as it did. As the story unfolded, day by day, ActBlue provided a crucial channel for Democrats across the country to support their counterparts in Wisconsin. That story is best told through our February numbers:

Number of contributions 34,500
Total raised $2,228,226.55
Average Contribution size $64.59
Committees receiving money 562
Fundraising pages receiving money 538
Pages created 313

 

Our infrastructure is benchmarked for national political events, and provided to every committee listed on ActBlue. Wisconsin was a particularly concise demonstration of why that way of doing business matters. We put national tools in the hands of a state party as it nucleated what may become one of the defining political struggles of this cycle.

Feb 2007 Feb 2009 Feb 2011 Change
Contributions 4,955 6,613 34,500 422%
Volume ($) $553,238.44 $1,296,968.44 $2,228,226.55 72%
Mean Donation $111.65 $196.12 $64.59 -67%
Committees 107 364 562 54%
Pages Created 103 327 313 -4%
Pages w/ Money 101 326 538 65%

 
And here are the five top committees, by number of donors, for February 2011.

Name Race Donors Dollars
Wisconsin State Senate Democratic Committee Organization 20,430 $475,502
PCCC Organization 6,368 $83,118
Democracy for America Organization 3,478 $42,227
Daily Kos Organization 2,350 $19,580
Nancy Pelosi CA-08 2,154 $22,588

Before we begin, a housekeeping note: I’m going to expand our analysis a bit. While year-over-year growth is important to us as an organization, for observers of politics the more interesting comparison is where we were at the same point in a similar cycle. To provide both views I’m going to compare 2011 to both 2009 and 2007, when we were at the same point in the cycle.

Number of contributions 10,120
Total raised $636,711.13
Average Contribution size $62.92
Committees receiving money 460
Fundraising pages receiving money 447
Pages created 226

 

January 2011 is an interesting case. January is generally a down month for political organizations, a time to take stock and develop a plan for the next year. For ActBlue, January 2011 is the first “true” January we’ve had since 2007. In 2008, the Democratic presidential primaries were in full swing. In 2009, there was a flurry of activity around the inauguration of Barack Obama, and finally in 2010 the special election for the MA-Sen seat. In the following table, change is calculated relative to 2009 numbers.

Jan 2007 Jan 2009 Jan 2011 Change
Contributions 5,934 8,615 10,120 17%
Volume ($) $589,511.09 $1,281,487.37 $636,711.13 -50%
Mean Donation $99.34 $148.75 $62.92 -57%
Committees 86 366 460 25%
Pages Created 85 247 226 -8%
Pages w/ Money 80 278 447 60%

 

And here are the top committees, by number of donors, for January 2011. Since January was a slow month, we’re going to cut to the top four:

Name Race Donors Dollars
PCCC Organization 2,580 $33,082
Blue America PAC Organization 1,074 $12,558
Daily Kos Organization 950 $11,219
Anthony Weiner NY-09 567 $12,916

 

Our first January without a seismic political event shows a number of organizations fundraising for battles down the road. As our February post will show, one of those battles cropped up far sooner than anticipated–ActBlue played a key role in enabling grassroots participation in Wisconsin.

There's been a flurry of coverage about down-ballot races ahead of the election, based on this Larry Sabato post:

The statehouses will provide the third leg of the Republicans’ 2010 victory. We have long suggested the GOP would gain a net +6 governorships. We now believe they will win +8. This boon to the GOP for redistricting will be enhanced by a gain of perhaps 300 to 500 seats in the state legislatures, and the addition of Republican control in 8 to 12 legislative chambers around the country.

Redistricting matters, and the GOP is acting accordingly, with the Republican Governor's Association (RGA) taking $1,000,000 from News Corp., the parent company of Fox News. Democrats are, to our credit, a little less comfortable funneling huge sums of corporate cash (however "fair and balanced" it may be) into downballot races, but that doesn't mean we're helpless.

Down-ballot races are largely overlooked by national press outlets despite their central role in the redistricting process that will start in 2011. The flip side of that problem is that, as a donor, your dollar goes a long way in these races. Ad buys are cheaper. Materials costs are lower. So taking the time to Google your State Senator or State Legislator and send him/her $5-$25 dollars on ActBlue is going to mean a lot to that campaign, especially if you encourage a few other people to do the same.

In fact, the 100,000,000th dollar to go to a Democrat through ActBlue went to Monk Elmer, who is running for Wisconsin State Senate in the first district. And he and the rest of the Wisconsin State Senate races are a good example of how Democrats can fight back against the GOP's attempt at a down-ballot coup.

The Wisconsin Democratic Party has been dilligent about getting their state-level candidates up and raising on ActBlue. Wisconsin State Senate races alone have raised $250,000 (all-time) on ActBlue, and, more importantly, our tools have revolutionized the way these smaller races fundraise. Here's Kory Kozloski, the Executive Director of the Wisconsin State Senate Democratic Committee, on what ActBlue has meant in his races:

ActBlue has been a fantastic tool for our candidates and their supporters. It’s allowed us to add a whole new dimension to our fundraising efforts. It's given us the ability to tap the same online donors as national and statewide campaigns, and harness those resources for State Assembly and State Senate races.

ActBlue has also made our traditional fundraising tactics like candidate call-time, direct mail, and small dollar calls much more effective by allowing supporters to give instantaneously. Not only has ActBlue greatly increased our response rate, but it also saves a great deal of time and money that would otherwise be spent on pledge letters and chase calls.

That additional money and savings in terms of both staff time and materials means more competitive downballot races. It means Democratic candidates can resist the huge sums of corporate money that the GOP Is pouring into these races, and do so in a way that's consistent with Democratic principles.

But there's also lasting change taking place here, in the form of staffers and candidates trained in new approaches to fundraising, and with the confidence and skills to reach new donor communities. As those staffers and candidates move through the political world, they'll bring that expertise to new campaigns and new offices and help change the way we–political insiders and ordinary citizens alike–view political fundraising.

To steal a line from a former state senator, that's change you can believe in.

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