WASHINGTON – In the first week after the Supreme Court left a woman’s constitutional right to an abortionDemocrats and allied groups raised more than $80 million, a tangible early sign of the verdict can stimulate voters.
But party officials say donors give much of that money on national campaigns and causes instead of running for state offices, where abortion policy is now being shaped as a result of the court’s decision. There, Republicans wield disproportionate power after more than a decade of pouring money and resources into critical but often overlooked contests.
Inequality in fundraising is an example of how a lack of long-term planning can lead to both structural disadvantage and a disgruntled democratic base. Aside from votes to pass legislation by a deadlocked and tightly divided Congress, abortion rights now appear to be the latest issue to be largely ceded to states. That comes after failed Democrat efforts to expand voting rights, limit maneuvering and significantly tighten gun laws.
“We can no longer afford for Democrats to systematically neglect down ballot races — not when Republicans are eager to interfere with our health care decisions, bedrooms and marriages,” said Gabrielle Chew, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. that helps fund state legislative races. “That should be a wake-up call.”
The massive $80 million fundraiser was recorded by ActBlue, the Democrats’ online fundraising platform, which has a ticker showing real-time money flowing through the organization. ActBlue took the first 24 hours after the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that made abortion a constitutional right, for $20 million. As of Tuesday, the group had processed more than $51 million in donations, and as of Friday, the total had reached $80 million.
In fact, all major Democratic campaign committees reported an increase in donations following the ruling, including those working at both the state and federal levels. Planned Parenthood too. But few were willing to release hard numbers.
WinRed, the Republican Party’s online fundraising portal, has not responded to a request about the party’s fundraising since the court ruling.
The disparity in fundraising between Democratic groups that work for state candidates and those that focus on national issues after a pivotal moment is nothing new. ActBlue, for example, has taken over more than $71 million in just 24 hours after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburglittle of which went to groups working on country-level campaigns.
Consider the case of Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison, who broke all fundraising records in 2020 with his sweeping attempt to oust Republican Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina and go to Congress in Washington. Harrison lost the race by more than 10 points. He raised more than $57 million in the final months of his campaignincluding a 24-hour period in which he raised over $1 million.
But for state houses? That Association of Democratic Governors announced it had raised $200,000 following the court decision last week. The organization said Thursday it was on track to raise $1 million before the start of the July 4 long weekend, which means less than the other committees’ focus on national races.
The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which raises money for state races across the country, declined to say how much it has raised since the court ruling. But the fundraising numbers so far show how underfunded the group is.
The DLCC raised $650,000 in the 48 hours after a leaked copy of the court decision surfaced in May. Earlier this year, it celebrated the announcement that it had raised almost $6 million in the last three months of last year.
Its GOP counterpart, the Republican State Leadership Committee, more than doubled in the same period last year.
“When Democrats[spend]1-to-1 with Republicans in legislative races, we win them,” said Greg Goddard, a Florida Democrat who raises money for national and state campaigns. “But if it’s 3-to-1 or 4-to-1, we get beat up.”
Amanda Litman, co-founder of the group Run For Something, which recruits candidates to run for school board races, city councils and legislatures, said Democrats have a sad track record when it comes to investing in down-ballot racing, which also includes a Bank building of future talents.
“The worst laws will come out of the reddest states, and they won’t stay on those red state lines. So what are you going to do to mitigate the harm?” Litman said after the abortion verdict. “I want Joe Biden to do fundraisers for the DLCC and the DGA.”
The Democratic fundraising ecosystem typically rewards social media stars, those who appear on popular liberal shows like Rachel Maddow, or contestants who go viral online. That’s extraordinarily difficult for candidates in races that don’t draw much attention from home, like most legislative contests.
Meanwhile, big dollar donors have historically donated to national candidates or groups focused on the presidency or Congress.
Still, some Democrats balk at the suggestion that down-ballot racing isn’t getting enough attention.
Sam Newton, a spokesman for the governors’ association, said she had her own success story to tell. Democratic candidates in key states saw big surges in donations after the court decision, he said. The group has also closed a 2-for-1 funding gap with Republicans that existed less than a decade ago, reaching parity in the past year.
Planned Parenthood is part of a collaborative effort with abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America and EMILY’s List, which supports women running for office and plans to spend $150 million for the 2022 midterm election, said Jenny Lawson, executive director from Planned Parenthood Votes.
The governors’ races will be a major focus, she said, citing Michigan and Wisconsin in particular, where decades-old laws banning abortion are still on the books. (Michigan’s law dates from 1931; Wisconsin’s from 1849.) Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, both Democrats, face tough re-election battles.
“These governors stood before these Republican lawmakers who want nothing more than to ban abortion, and they said ‘no,'” Lawson said. “These governors are on the front lines and we have to protect them.”
But others are skeptical that the effort will slack off outside of high-profile races.
Litman said some party donors would warm to the idea of donating to down-ballot competitions. But there remains a culture within the party, particularly among mega-donors, of chasing the “bright, shiny object,” she said. Republicans, meanwhile, treat political donations as “a business investment — you get your judges and your tax cuts” and “you patiently spend money because you know it’s going to pay off,” she said.
“We must balance our short-term immediate electoral goals with a long-term mission to win back these seats,” Litman said.
For full coverage of the Midterms, follow AP on Twitter, https://twitter.com/ap_politics
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.
https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/07/01/democrats-swiftly-raised-80m-after-court-overturned-roe/ Democrats quickly raised $80 million after the court overthrew Roe