Dems see small-dollar fundraising as proof of voter enthusiasm

Dems see small-dollar fundraising as proof of voter enthusiasm
© Getty Images

Millions of small dollar donors forked over just shy of half a billion dollars to Democratic candidates up and down the ballot in the first half of the year, a sign that enthusiasm and engagement among the party’s core backers remains at record levels.

More than 3.3 million donors have given candidates and liberal groups $420 million over the first six months of the year through the ActBlue fundraising platform, the group said in a blog post Wednesday. In the last three months, 2.4 million individual donors gave $246 million.

ADVERTISEMENT

ActBlue said 390,000 donors made contributions on June 30, the last day before the fundraising quarter ended, a number higher than on any other day in the platform’s history.

The amount those donors have given through the beginning of the cycle is nearly twice what they gave over the same period of time in the 2018 cycle, when Democratic candidates raised record sums en route to winning back control of the House.

“Building off the unprecedented participation of the 2018 midterms, small-dollar donors have expanded this grassroots movement in incredible ways,” Emily Dong and Zoe Howard wrote on ActBlue’s blog.

Democrats have been concerned about maintaining the high levels of voter enthusiasm that fueled their wins in the 2018 midterm elections. But voters on both sides of the aisle have indicated they are even more enthusiastic about voting now than they had been in the days and weeks leading up to recent presidential elections.

An SSRS survey conducted for CNN in April found 70 percent of voters were either extremely or very enthusiastic about voting in the presidential election. Just before the 2016 election, only 47 percent of voters were extremely or very enthusiastic; before the 2012 contest, 68 percent said the same.

Those numbers have led both Democratic and Republican strategists to conclude that the 2020 presidential contest may feature the highest levels of turnout in more than a century. The GOP polling firm Public Opinion Strategies projects record turnout among non-white voters.

“Looking ahead to 2020, it is reasonable to expect another historic level of turnout, perhaps approaching 160 million votes or more,” wrote Yair Ghitza, the chief scientist at the Democratic analytics firm Catalist.

The small-dollar surge has benefitted both Democrats and Republicans. Both President TrumpDonald John TrumpWatergate prosecutor says that Sondland testimony was 'tipping point' for Trump In private moment with Trump, Justice Kennedy pushed for Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination: book Obama: 'Everybody needs to chill out' about differences between 2020 candidates MORE’s campaign committee and Democratic presidential candidates receive more of their money from small donors than from larger donors.

About half of the individual contributions Trump has taken in have come from small-dollar donors, according to his campaign’s federal fundraising reports. That means his campaign has attracted at least 41,000 small-dollar donors, though the total numbers are likely much higher.

A Trump spokesman did not immediately respond to requests to detail the campaign’s small-donor program.

Among leading Democratic candidates, more than three quarters of those giving to Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersKamala Harris receives new Iowa endorsements after debate performance Wasserman Schultz makes bid for House Appropriations Committee gavel Overnight Health Care: Crunch time for Congress on surprise medical bills | CDC confirms 47 vaping-related deaths | Massachusetts passes flavored tobacco, vaping products ban MORE (I-Vt.) have given less than $200, while about two-thirds of Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenKamala Harris receives new Iowa endorsements after debate performance Warren speech in Georgia interrupted by pro-charter school protesters Hillicon Valley: Senators ask Trump to halt Huawei licenses | Warren criticizes Zuckerberg over secret dinner with Trump | Senior DHS cyber official to leave | Dems offer bill on Libra oversight MORE’s (D-Mass.) donors fall in the same range, according to data compiled by ProPublica.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenKamala Harris receives new Iowa endorsements after debate performance Watergate prosecutor says that Sondland testimony was 'tipping point' for Trump Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Deal on defense bill proves elusive | Hill, Holmes offer damaging testimony | Trump vows to block Navy from ousting officer from SEALs MORE and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisKamala Harris receives new Iowa endorsements after debate performance On The Money: Trump signs short-term spending bill to avoid shutdown | Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 | California high court strikes down law targeting Trump tax returns Democratic strategist laments 'low bar' for Biden debate performance MORE (D-Calif.) have each relied on small-dollar donors for about 40 percent of their total receipts.

More than half of the contributions that have rolled in have come from mobile devices, ActBlue said, a sign that donors are responding to candidate emails and pitches as soon as they arrive in a donor’s inbox. Mobile donations were most likely to come in early in the morning or late at night, before or after work hours.

-- Updated on July 18, at 1:08 p.m.