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House Democrats Cash In With Online Fundraising Program

Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call
The DCCC, which is led by Rep. Steve Israel , took in an online total of almost $50 million in the 2012 election cycle and even had a few million-dollar days.

It’s usually easier to bring in big bucks when your party holds the speaker’s gavel. But last cycle, House Democrats crushed their competitors thanks to a dramatic spike in online fundraising.

In the 2010 cycle, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $14.6 million online; in 2012 it took in $49.3 million — a total representing one-third of its revenue. In the previous two cycles, online donations accounted for 5 percent to 9 percent of the DCCC’s total haul, according to DCCC fundraising figures provided exclusively to CQ Roll Call.

The online boom more than leveled the fundraising playing field for the minority party, allowing the campaign arm to raise $28 million more than its GOP counterparts last cycle.

“As a program that used to have a $50,000 day and [we’d] do high-fives in the hallway, doing million dollar days was just amazing,” said Brandon English, the committee’s digital director who has worked in that department since 2006.

The DCCC had a few “million-dollar days” last cycle. It raised $1.3 million online the day after the Republican National Convention. The DCCC brought in $2.3 million online in the 48 hours following Wisconsin Rep. Paul D. Ryan’s nomination speech at the convention.

That’s more than the National Republican Congressional Committee raised in small-dollar donations (under $200) for the entire month of August, according to online fundraising records. These small-dollar donations compose the majority of online fundraising — for example, the DCCC’s average online gift was $31 last cycle.

NRCC officials declined to divulge their online fundraising totals for recent cycles. But records show the DCCC pulled in more than three times as much as the NRCC in small-dollar donations last cycle.

House Republicans have taken note of the DCCC’s success. NRCC Digital Director Gerrit Lansing said the committee will triple its digital department staff for the 2014 cycle.

“When NRCC Chairman Greg Walden took over he made a strategic decision to invest heavily in our Digital Department and we’re determined to help set new standards for Digital both on the Right and the Left,” Lansing said in an email to CQ Roll Call. “To that end, the NRCC has tripled their Digital staff to 10, and prioritized the Department with a Vice-Chair on the Executive Committee in Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah.

“We will not be behind online ever again,” he added.

Republicans have serious ground to make up in this realm — not just in the House, but across the GOP. Democrats have led the way in online fundraising on the national level since its existence. Howard Dean sparked Internet fundraising fire with his presidential campaign 2004, and President Barack Obama brought it to full blaze in 2008.

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