In another sign that President Donald Trump's victory has mobilized Democratic voters in a big way, the committee charged with electing Democrats to the House said Tuesday that it set a grass-roots fundraising record in the first months of 2017.
And, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee noted, it got a big hand from congressional Republicans.
When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., moved to silence Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., from reading a 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King during a Feb. 7 debate over the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., as attorney general, the DCCC swung into action, sending fundraising emails and urging supporters to sign a petition denouncing Sessions. Within 48 hours, the committee had raised $767,000 online.
Those were among the 268,000 gifts of $200 or less the DCCC said it received in January and February - a major increase not only over the same period in the last non-election year (125,000 in 2015), but also over the 2016 election-year numbers (146,000).
In February alone, the DCCC said it raised $4.7 million online - more than three times as much as the committee raised online in February 2015. An additional $1.8 million was raised through direct mail and phone calls during that period, doubling the 2015 numbers.
DCCC spokesman Tyler Law said the numbers are "a reflection of the groundswell of early support and energy behind House Democrats."
"The massive growth in our base of grass-roots donors will continue to benefit our committee and our candidates as we work to maximize gains on an expanded battlefield," Law said.
Building a network of grass-roots supporters willing to make small donations is important to party fundraisers because those voters tend to continue giving in small increments throughout the election cycle. Law said the DCCC has added 100,000 donors since the beginning of the year, and has signed up 1.3 million new subscribers to its main grass-roots email list, with 7.3 million more having signed DCCC online petitions.
Although the $4.7 million in online fundraising is meaningful, it can pale in comparison to the sums parties can reap from wealthy donors willing to write checks that run into the thousands of dollars - let alone super PAC funders who spend into the millions. The DCCC has not yet released its total fundraising numbers for February, which would show how the party's high-dollar donors are responding to the Trump era.
For instance, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., transferred more than $4.4 million last month to the National Republican Congressional Committee, the group reported Monday. And, an NRCC spokesman pointed out, money isn't everything in politics.
"The Democratic Party is lurching further to left at the behest of the activist base," spokesman Jesse Hunt said. "Money won't solve their problems with crafting a policy agenda that appeals to a wider range of voters."