In case you missed it, Politico took a close look at the DCCC’s unprecedented investment in growing the digital and online fundraising capacity of Democratic campaigns and how that has allowed Democrats to beat Republicans to the airwaves and set the narrative in key races. Additionally, the story outlines how the CLF’s attacks have backfired and put Republicans on the defensive, particularly in Virginia’s 7th District.
“The DCCC made an unprecedented investment in online, grassroots fundraising for both the committee and our Democratic candidates, and it’s a tactical decision that has paid off massively,” said DCCC Spokesman Tyler Law. “We have been clear that one of the largest structural challenges to taking back the House is the historic amount of Republican outside money. That hasn’t changed, but our laser focus on empowering Democratic candidates and ensuring that they can beat Republican outside groups to the airwaves in the vast majority of races is clearly working.”
“Our committee’s key, early investments have helped Democrats harness grassroots enthusiasm and capitalize on pivotal news cycles to raise the money necessary to be competitive across such a huge House battlefield,” said Digital Press Secretary Sebastian Silva.
Democrats find their answer to the Koch brothers | Politico
By Elena Schneider
Hundreds of thousands of online donors are pouring gobs of cash into Democratic House campaigns at an accelerating clip — a bulwark against a late-summer advertising assault that Republicans hope could save their majority.
Republicans have long seen their outside-money advantage as a key factor in the battle for the House, with Congressional Leadership Fund pledging to spend a massive $100 million in 2018. The super PAC’s plan is to attack Democrats early and often, and it unleashed a salvo of TV attack ads in 15 districts before Labor Day, seeking to disqualify Democrats before the fall campaign even heated up.
But the gush of online money to Democratic candidates has allowed them to hit the airwaves themselves earlier than ever, blunting the GOP’s game plan. Democrats in nearly 20 districts aired TV ads first to define themselves before facing GOP attacks, according to a review of TV spending totals shared with POLITICO.
[…]That sustained cash flow has extended Democrats’ already formidable edge in the fight for control of the House. Democratic House candidates raised more than $35.8 million online in August, according to a POLITICO analysis of Federal Election Commission data from ActBlue, the Democratic online fundraising platform. That’s up nearly sixfold from House Democrats’ online total of $6.2 million in August 2016, during the last election.
The gains have been broadly distributed: Fourteen Democratic challengers raised at least a half-million dollars via ActBlue in August, while another 38 brought in at least $250,000 online.
“For a number of years, Democrats searched for our answer to the Koch brothers and find our own billionaire,” said Jesse Ferguson, a former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee staffer and Democratic consultant. “In reality, it’s a 67-year-old grandmother on a fixed income who’s donating $25 every month to candidates.”
Among those leading the way was Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA officer running in Virginia who raised $790,000 online in August — and saw a fundraising spike after disclosing that CLF had obtained her confidential security clearance application while conducting research on her employment history, according to her campaign.
But by the time CLF used the information to attack Spanberger on TV on Sept. 6, the Democrat had already aired nearly 900 positive TV spots in her race against GOP Rep. Dave Brat, according to data from Advertising Analytics.
“Our ads helped set the baseline of who I am, and that was probably very helpful in combating those attacks,” Spanberger said in an interview with POLITICO. “The juxtaposition of the visuals of the ads, ours showing me as a normal person and theirs, are just scary.”
[…] She’s just one of many Democrats bringing in big money and pouring it right back into mass communication with voters. Overall, ActBlue — which surpassed $1 billion raised in 2018 on Aug. 2 — had its biggest month ever in August, bringing in $100 million to candidates and progressive organizations. Other top House fundraisers that month included Sharice Davids, who raised over $782,000 online in August for her campaign against Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.), and Jared Golden, who brought in over $729,000 online for his campaign against Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-Maine).
The money sprouted after months of groundwork by campaigns and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The DCCC placed digital staffers in each of its regional political teams for the first time this election, according to a DCCC aide, helping campaigns grow online and be prepared to capitalize on viral moments and other opportunities.
The resulting well-funded campaigns have put House Democrats in an unusual position: They and their allied outside groups are currently outadvertising the GOP in some battlegrounds.
[…] These August online fundraising totals track with Democratic candidate performance over the past year. A whopping 56 Republican House incumbents raised less money than their Democratic challengers during the second quarter, along with 16 congressmen with less cash on hand than their Democratic opponents.
“This is the manifestation of a larger problem — the massive enthusiasm gap,” said one Republican consultant working on House races, granted anonymity to speak candidly. “Republicans and our outside groups are raising a lot of money, too, but we can longer say or think we can rely on just our super PACs, because now Democrats have money as well. Everyone has money.”