By BRIAN SLODYSKO, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — In the first week after the Supreme Court struck down a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, Democrats and aligned groups have raised more than $80 million, a tangible early sign that the decision could energize voters.
But party officials say donors are spending much of that money on national campaigns and causes instead of races for public office, where abortion policy will now be shaped following the court ruling. . This is where Republicans wield disproportionate power after more than a decade of plunging money and resources into critical but often overlooked contests.
The fundraising disparity offers an example of how a lack of long-term planning can lead to both structural disadvantage and an frustrated Democratic base. With no votes to pass legislation through a deadlocked and tightly divided Congress, abortion rights now appear to be the last issue largely ceded to the states. This is after Democratic efforts to expand voting rights, limit gerrymandering and dramatically toughen gun laws have failed.
“We can no longer afford Democrats’ systemic neglect of down races — not when Republicans are eager to interfere in our health care decisions, our bedrooms, and our marriages,” he said. said Gabrielle Chew, spokeswoman for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which 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 in more than $20 million in the first 24 hours after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that determined abortion was a constitutional right. As of Tuesday, the group had processed more than $51 million in donations, and by Friday the total had reached $80 million.
In fact, all major Democratic campaign committees reported increased contributions after the ruling, including those working at the state level as well as on federal races. Family planning too. But few have been willing to release specific numbers.
WinRed, the Republican Party’s online fundraising portal, has not responded to a request for information about the party’s fundraising since the court ruling.
The disparity in fundraising is nothing new between Democratic groups working for state candidates and those focusing on national issues after a watershed moment. For example, ActBlue took in more than $71 million in just 24 hours after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a small portion of which went to groups working on state-level campaigns.
Take the case of Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison, who in 2020 broke fundraising records in his long-running bid to oust Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and make it to Congress in Washington. . Harrison ended up losing the race by over 10 points. He has raised over $57 million in the final months of his campaign, including a 24-hour period in which he raised over $1 million.
But for the Statehouses? The Democratic Governors Association announced that it raised $200,000 online after the court ruling last week. The organization said Thursday it was on track to raise $1 million before the start of the July 4 long weekend.
The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which raises funds for state races across the country, declined to say how much it has taken in since the court ruling. But its past fundraising numbers show just how under-resourced the group is.
The DLCC raised $650,000 within 48 hours after a leaked copy of the court ruling surfaced in May. Earlier this year, he celebrated by announcing that he 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 when it’s 3-to-1 or 4-to-1, you get screwed.
Amanda Litman, co-founder of the group Run For Something, which recruits candidates to run for school boards, city councils and legislatures, said Democrats have a dismal record of investing in ballot races. reduced who are also building a bench of future talent.
“The worst laws will come from the reddest states, and they won’t stay within those red borders. So what are you going to do to lessen the harm? Litman said after the abortion decision. “I want to see Joe Biden fundraising 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 candidates who go viral online. It’s extremely difficult for contestants in races that don’t attract much attention away 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 bristle at the suggestion that short-ballot races aren’t getting enough attention.
Sam Newton, spokesperson for the Governors Association, said she had her own story to tell. Democratic candidates in key states saw big increases in donations after the court ruling, he said. The group also closed a 2-to-1 fundraising gap with Republicans that existed less than a decade ago, reaching parity last year.
Planned Parenthood is part of a joint effort with abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America and EMILY’s List, which supports women running for office, that plans to spend $150 million on the ballot halfway through 2022, said executive Jenny Lawson. director of Planned Parenthood Votes.
Governor races will be a major focus, she said, citing Michigan and Wisconsin in particular, where decades-old laws banning abortion are still in effect. (Michigan’s law dates from 1931; Wisconsin’s from 1849.) Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, both Democrats, face tough re-election battles.
“These governors stood before these Republican legislatures that want nothing more than to ban abortion and they said ‘no,'” Lawson said. “These governors are on the front line and we have to protect them.”
But others are skeptical the effort will trickle down outside of high-profile racing.
Litman said some party donors are warming to the idea of giving to drop-voting contests. But there remains a culture in the party, especially among megadonors, of chasing “the shiny, shiny object,” she said. Republicans, meanwhile, treat political donations as a “business investment — you get your judges and tax cuts” and “you patiently spend money knowing it will pay off,” she said. .
“We need to balance our immediate, short-term electoral goals with a long-term mission to win back those seats,” Litman said.
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