Monday, August 14, 2017

Gimme Some Money

Recent articles from's Jeff Stein and Politico's Michael Whitney and happened to catch my attention.
Stein reported on Vox that the Democrats are, at this point, within striking distance of taking back the House of Representatives by winning 34 seats - ten more than they need - in 2018, according to recent polls.
But get this.  According to Whitney, they're also having trouble fundraising.
While it's inevitable in this age of the Citizens United decision that the Republicans would have more money than the Democrats, and fundraising numbers from both parties show that the GOP has twice as much money as the Democrats, Whitney notes that the Republicans are actually getting more money from small donors - $33 million compared to the Democratic Party's $21 million.
"This isn’t just about money," Whitney wrote. "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."  And since the Democrats lack such support, Whitney added for good measure, that only "threatens to prevent major gains by the party in 2018 and beyond."
The reason?  Messaging.  Whitney also said that Donald Trump has been masterful in giving voters a message of empowerment, promising to restore America's greatness and promising to restore American jobs.  He's speaking to a base that feels that power has shifted from under their feet and wants to hear a message that they can get their mojo back.  And that's exactly the message he gives them.  Progressives, both inside and outside the Democratic Party,  have offered a similar message; while Whitney has cited Bernie Sanders and his promise of a "revolution," I can point to Martin O'Malley and his pledge to "rebuild the American Dream."  But the Democratic National Committee doesn't use messaging like that; its e-mails asking for money only react to Trump's agenda without offering a positive message of their own.  Also, the party has been using scare tactics to get small donors to cough up a few bucks by saying that if you don't contribute to the Democrats, the Republicans will become even more powerful and everything you cherish and hold dear will be taken away from you.
The problem is that everything Democratic voters cherish and hold dear has been taken away from them - their livelihoods, their communities, their health care (not everyone can get coverage under the Affordable Care Act), their children's future.  You can't scare small Democratic donors in to giving money because most if not all of their fears have already been realized.
The right message makes all the difference.  Sanders got that in 2016.  O'Malley got it.  For all I know, Lincoln Chafee got it.  But Hillary ("Stronger Together"; "Love trumps hate") certainly didn't, and Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez doesn't seem to get it either.  The fact that the Democrats have a chance to take back the House (is anyone paying attention to governorships and state legislatures) is academic at this point, since the 2018 midterms are fifteen months away, and things could change.  But yes, they do have a chance.  A chance, however, only provides an opportunity when you take it.  Perez doesn't even seem to be trying to.
Right now, people are hanging their hats on Russia investigations or the possibility of brinkmanship with North Korea and wondering how much longer it will be before Trump loses his job.  I have a feeling that Tom Perez will lose his first. 

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