While the fundamental ideology behind American politics may be a pure and unfettered conduit from the people to the President, we would be foolish to ignore the role that money plays within the process. After all, this is America, where the free market is the modus operandi of the entire experiment.
So, as with all aspects of American culture, things are easier within the political realm when the gears are lubricated with cash…and lots of it. Not only that, but we have grown keen at using monetary value as a predictor of what’s to come within our society.
It is this power of political prophecy that has the Republican Party sounding the alarm.
Last month, the National Republican Senatorial Committee prepared a slideshow for Senate chiefs of staff full of bleak numbers about the party’s failure to compete with Democrats on digital fundraising. For anyone not getting the message, the final slide hammered home the possible end result: a freight train bearing down on a man standing on the tracks.
The slideshow, obtained by POLITICO, painted a grim picture of the GOP’s long-running problem. Republican senators and challengers lagged behind Democrats by a collective $30 million in the first quarter of 2020, a deficit stemming from Democrats’ superior online fundraising machine. Since then, Democrats’ fundraising pace accelerated further, with the party’s challengers announcing huge second-quarter hauls last week, largely driven by online donors giving through ActBlue, the party’s preferred fundraising platform.
Within the party, the language being used is stark.
“It’s a slow-moving trainwreck,” said Eric Wilson, a Republican consultant who led Marco Rubio’s digital strategy in the 2016 presidential campaign. “The warning signs are flashing right now, and they’re ignoring it.”
Democratic Senate campaigns have outraised Republicans in small-dollar donations (under $200) in 10 of the 12 most competitive races, according to a review of the most recent Federal Election Commission reports, which this week are due for an update covering the second quarter. Already, many Democratic campaigns have announced that they raised massive sums in the last three months, while few Republicans have tipped their hands. Unitemized donations also represented a higher percentage of individual receipts for Democrats in every competitive race featuring a GOP senator.
“Some GOP Senate candidates have made great strides online, but we’re still light-years away from where we need to be as a party,” Kevin McLaughlin, executive director of the NRSC, said in a statement. “2020 should serve as a canary in the coal mine to anyone on the ballot in 2022 and beyond. They have a simple choice: Adapt immediately or find a new job. We have better resources than Democrats, but they don’t do any good if no one uses them.”
With than less than 4 months remaining until the 2020 election, this figurative call-to-arms will need to be disseminated far and wide…and with haste.
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