It's a good thing 2020 Democrats taking on Trump are pulling in major fundraising hauls individually, collectively outraising Trump by two to one, because Tom Perez and the Democratic National Committee are doing an abysmal job of it at the national level, and that's a massive problem heading into House, Senate, and state races that will decide redistricting for the next decade.
The Democratic National Committee is getting smoked by its GOP counterpart in fundraising — and some major Democrats are panicked it could hurt their chances at defeating President Trump next year.
The DNC brought in just $22.9 million over the last three months including $9.5 million in June, according to a campaign finance report filed Saturday night with the Federal Election Commission. That’s less than half the Republican National Committee’s haul over the same time period: $51 million.
The DNC had just $9.3 million in the bank at the end of June, less than a quarter the $44 million RNC had — and that doesn’t even factor in the DNC’s $5.7 million in debt. The RNC and President Trump’s campaign had a combined $100 million in the bank.
The huge cash disparity puts Democrats behind the eight-ball in the time-and money-consuming process of building out strong voter contact programs in the states that will determine whether Trump gets reelected.
“They need to get their shit together. Now,” said Adam Parkhomenko, a Hillary Clinton campaign alumna who served as the DNC’s national field director for the final few months of the 2016 campaign.
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“When Hillary became the nominee in 2016 she was handed nothing, the DNC was nothing and there was nothing to build on,” he said. “You’d think we would have spent the last few years making sure this would never happen again, and it has.”
Trump’s campaign and the RNC are already using their massive cash advantage to sow the ground for next year’s election, spending more than $60 million this year alone on digital operations including $10 million on ads and building out a ground game infrastructure that takes months if not years to develop.
Democrats can’t keep up.
Tom Perez isn't the right person for the job. Ironically, for all her other faults, Debbie Wasserman Schultz was a much better fundraiser, but overall the Dems have been outraised in every election this decade.
While their top presidential candidates are raising big money, the tedious years-long work of building out party voter files, identifying voters’ top concerns, and turning them out to vote is the purview of the national party, the DNC. The party’s current lack of cash could hamstring their eventual nominee and hurt down-ticket candidates, especially in states that aren’t presidential battlegrounds and are especially cash-strapped.
“This is a real problem that our party and the major donors are not facing,” said Nebraska Democratic Party Chair Jane Kleeb, who said her party hasn’t “received a dime yet” of money the DNC promised to them earlier in the year and hasn’t been able to hire field staff she’d planned on.
The party’s fundraising woes began long before DNC Chairman Tom Perez took over in early 2017. The DNC has been outraised by the RNC in every two-year campaign cycle since 2010, following a disastrous move by President Obama to spin off his own campaign into a separate operation, starving the party of resources for years.
“Under President Obama we completely ignored our state and DNC infrastructure and now we’re paying a major price,” said Kleeb.
Other hurdles face the DNC. The GOP always has a natural advantage with big donors as the party of big business and billionaires. Small-dollar donors are rarely eager to give to a committee instead of a candidate — and the DNC’s perceived bias towards Clinton in the 2016 primaries badly damaged the DNC’s image. Democrats don’t have the White House, so they don’t have a fundraiser-in-chief, and a crowded presidential field is sucking up most donor attention and resources.
Democrats credit Perez for cleaning up some of the mess he inherited. The party has grown from 30 to 200 employees as fundraising has improved, and the DNC recently hired 1,000 rising college seniors to be full-time organizers after graduation.
The committee parted ways with longtime finance chairman Henry Muñoz in early May and replaced him with Chris Korge, a major Democratic Party donor. Under Korge, the DNC raised $3.2 million more in June than May. But with the Democratic National Convention just a year away, Perez is running out of time to right the ship.
“The one thing that has been changed is they replaced their finance chair with a guy who’s a very good money-raiser,” said former DNC Chairman Ed Rendell.
Korge argued the DNC is hitting its internal fundraising marks and promised it would raise more than it did during the 2016 cycle. While he admitted the GOP would vastly outraise them, he pointed out that the DNC and Clinton outspent the RNC and Trump by a wide margin in 2016 and Trump still won.
Dems continue to flub the farm team aspect of this and have for ten years. It's how we lost the decade to Trump and the GOP, and unless a miracle happens, we will lose it to them again for another decade.
The country won't survive that. Not as a democracy.