After Democrats trounced Republicans in online fundraising in recent cycles, the House GOP's campaign chief has promised improvements for the party's digital donor base in 2014.
“We’re coming out of this cycle wondering what the heck happened to us, and how did we fall behind, and how do we leapfrog ahead?” said Greg Walden, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, in a Wednesday interview with CQ Roll Call. “I look at this as an opportunity.”
The NRCC’s effort comes as the party looks to protect, and possibly even expand, its 17-seat advantage over House Democrats. Despite holding the majority, the NRCC has brought in less cash than the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee every month this election cycle.
This is partly a product of the DCCC's online fundraising success. In 2012, the DCCC reported raking in $49.3 million in online donations (the NRCC declined to give its online fundraising figures at the time), helping House Democrats raise $28 million more in total than the NRCC during that cycle to help the party's candidates and members.
This cycle, the DCCC continued to bring in more cash than the NRCC each month, including raising $1.4 million more in the month of May.
“It’s a concern. We’ll have, I think, the resources that we’ll need to run the races we need to run,” said Walden, an Oregonian. “But I’m pretty competitive and I never like to be beaten on any front.“
Walden pointed to the NRCC’s efforts to hire more digital staff, including some Republicans from California’s Silicon Valley, who can specialize in creating online fundraising tools.
“There are actually Republicans in the Silicon Valley that are high-tech engineers who have now quietly emerged to say we want to help,” said Walden, who declined to give names. “They’re in the witness program and they want to stay there."
The DCCC, however, says its strong fundraising numbers are a product of an active and engaged grass-roots network of Democrats. This cycle, the DCCC has raised more than $9 million online, double the amount of online contributions from the same point last cycle.
“Our grass-roots donors are fired up — they want to see a Congress that actually solves problems instead of fighting tired old ideological battles on issues like women’s health and ending the Medicare guarantee," DCCC spokeswoman Emily Bittner said. "Every time we communicate with our grass roots about what Republicans are doing in the House — whether it’s restricting a woman’s right to choose or passing the draconian Ryan budget — they respond generously and swiftly.”
Beyond the fundraising and digital fronts, Walden argued his committee is in a better position to pick up seats this cycle than the DCCC. He pointed to historical precedent as evidence for his early bullishness, noting the sixth year of a presidency is rarely a good cycle for the party in the White House.