Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Dems' Money Infrastructure Gets a Wisconsin Workout

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, March 10 2011

Protestors gathered in Madison, March 6th; photo by antrover.

The standoff in Wisconsin is putting the left's online organizing infrastructure through its paces.

For one thing, as Ben Smith notes, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy in America pulled in some $200,000 through the fundraising clearinghouse ActBlue since the Wisconsin State Senate passed of the contested union organizing bill last night, money they plan to spend on "flood[ing] the markets" of a handful of Republican senators running in districts won by Obama in 2008.

But there's more. ActBlue's Adrian Arroyo notes in an email that state-based political players are benefiting from online fundraising, too. More than 11,000 donors chipped in to the local Democratic organizations since the vote. The State Senate Democratic Committee has been the recipient of $725,000 from 28,000 contributors through ActBlue, much of it through externally-directed national bundling by MoveOn and Daily Kos; their official website consists of little more than an ActBlue embed. And the state Democratic party has taken in, through ActBlue, another three-quarters of a million dollars.

The right has tried here and there to build an online fundraising clearinghouse to clone ActBlue's success, but nothing has stuck. (One such oft-noted entrant, SlateCard, seems to be completely dead.) Patrick Ruffini, a leading strategist on the right, reports today that his firm Engage is rolling out the ability to combine data from their custom-built fundraising and organizing platforms, an antidote to the technology ecosystem that Republicans and right-leaning organizations find themselves living in that "tends to be more fractured" than that of the political left.

One distinction with ActBlue, though, is that it's free, and the platform part of the business is run as a non-profit. "If we were a for-profit vendor, the sort of software that can handle that kind of spike in traffic would be out of reach, financially speaking, for a state committee," writes ActBlue's Arroyo. "But because we're a non-profit, we can provide software benchmarked for major federal political moments to everyone who uses ActBlue. That's why WisDems have got what they need to fuel future political action."

What it all means in practice is that Democrats, progressives, liberals have at the ready an ability to channel event scattered national interest in a 'flash' political event like Wisconsin into money in their coffers. "Infrastructure matters," writes Arroyo, "and you can't build it in the moment."

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

First POST: Creeping

Senator Al Franken's tough questions for Uber's CEO; how the NSA could make its phone metadata program permanent; global privacy groups launch a personal spyware catcher called Detekt; and much, much more. GO

Recreation.gov and other Govt Projects Move Toward Embracing New Digital Approach

A draft request for proposals for the revamping of Recreation.gov will include a requirement that reservation availability data be publicly accessible and that all proposals detail how they will enable third-party sales, as two members of the United States Digital Services have joined the government team overseeing the RFP, meeting some key demands of civic technologists and consumer oriented technology companies. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Ubermenschens

Surge-pricing in effect for Uber privacy violations; why "privacy" policies should be called "data usage" policies; pols silent on Uber mess; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Uber Falles

Uber exposed for plan to dig up dirt on journalist critics; sneaking a SOPA provision into the USA Freedom Act; high-speed free WiFi coming to NYC; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Differences

How to use Twitter to circumvent campaign coordination rules; the net neutrality debate keeps getting hotter; charting the gender balance at dataviz conference using dataviz; and much, much more. GO

More