Democratic strategists said Demzilla will have a much greater impact on the party’s congressional fortunes than McAuliffe’s other 11th-hour bequest: the transfer of $1 million to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC).
The new DNC chairman, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, said last week that he was aware, and fully supportive, of giving the committees access to Demzilla. Both Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), chairman of the DCCC, and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), chairman of the DSCC, pleaded with McAuliffe to share the file, according to aides.
“I have been told about Demzilla,” Dean said, adding, “I am a big fan of Terry McAuliffe. Everything we do today stands on the shoulders of his fundraising efforts.”
The carefully guarded database contains more than 170 million records, with files that have been scrubbed and updated. They include hundreds of bytes of information about voter behavior and consumer preferences.
While Demzilla might not have the high money yield of donor files in Dean’s Democracy For America organization or the group EMILY’s List, party strategists said Demzilla has the most comprehensive compilation of data available to Democrats and contains more raw information than most other lists combined.
The Republican National Committee has a similar computer file, Voter Vault, but has always shared access with GOP congressional committees. However, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) have paid for its upkeep.
“We pay for part of the maintenance of the voter file, so we have full access to it,” said Carl Forti, spokesman for the NRCC. “We’ve had access for years, so it’s not like this is something new.”
In contrast, Demzilla was created, paid for and housed by the DNC.
At the House Democratic retreat earlier this month, Emanuel told his colleagues that they will be able to avail themselves of the 170 million files, according to several aides.
“It’s really a tremendous thing. They created a central database, cleaned the files and made sure they were working, and they updated all of that,” a DCCC aide said. “This isn’t only the biggest list, it’s the most refined. It’s where the Republicans had the biggest advantage over us in the last two years.”
Democratic strategists said that new realities of relying on small-dollar donors made the sharing of Demzilla an imperative for the party to continue to compete with Republicans.
“It’s the holy grail, and given the constrictions of campaign finance laws, and with the strength of technologically targeting voters and donors, it’s an extraordinarily important development for the new regime at the DCCC,” said Bob Doyle, a Democratic strategist who represents many centrist candidates.
“This is one of the unique strengths that Pelosi brings to the table as the DCCC gets down to focusing on the small-donor base and the whole party becomes more technologically driven,” Doyle added. “This is where Pelosi becomes a much better leader.”
Pelosi said she hopes to travel less this cycle to raise money, relying on Emanuel’s expertise and enthusiasm to fill the DCCC’s coffers, adding, “I have complete confidence in his decisions.”