WASHINGTON -- The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ramped up its online fundraising operation in the 2012 cycle, bringing in record amounts and helping level the playing field against Republicans, who had the help of deep-pocketed independent groups like American Crossroads.
The DSCC raised more than $35 million online in the 2012 cycle, which is more than the previous three cycles combined.
According to numbers provided by the DSCC, this online fundraising component gave Democrats an edge over the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which raised a total of $83 million for 2012. The DSCC raised a total of $106 million -- a difference of $26 million.
Three Democratic Senate candidates also raised a record amount of money online in their states. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) raised $7.5 million online (out of a total $21 million raised), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) raised $4.5 million online (out of a total $20 million raised) and North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp raised $2 million online (out of a total $5.25 million raised).
The DSCC also boasted that 99 percent of its contributions were grassroots donations, meaning they were under $200. They brought in $43.8 million through Oct. 15, compared to the NRSC's $24.5 million.
While the NRSC did not bring in as much as the DSCC, it also benefited from strong online fundraising numbers. Like the Democratic committee, it raised more online in 2012 than in the previous three cycles combined.
NRSC communications director Brian Walsh noted that while Democrats raised more in this cycle, it was a smaller gap than it was in 2008.
“Given that the Democrats are in the majority we always expected to be outraised this cycle, but the fact that we were able to cut into their 2008 fundraising margin by over $40 million in just four years is welcome news," said Walsh. "Under Senator [John] Cornyn’s leadership, the NRSC made substantial investments in online and direct mail technologies, and coupled with a lot of hard work, that allowed us to substantially close what was once a very significant gap. So while there is still a lot of work to be done the trend-lines have to trouble the Democrats as both parties look to the future."
Republicans fell short in their quest to take control of the Senate, with Democrats picking up two extra seats in this election cycle.
Karl Rove's American Crossroads organization spent more than $300 million during the cycle. And despite the widespread GOP losses, the group has argued that it was an essential player precisely because the DSCC was so strong at fundraising.
"President Obama, over the course of the campaign, outspent Mitt Romney on television by $154 million from April through November," said American Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio last week on MSNBC.
"Senate Democrats -- if you take away the two self-funders in Connecticut and Pennsylvania -- outraised their Republican counterparts by $60 million. Not to mention the DSCC outraised the NRSC by another $20 million. So what Democrats did in this election extremely effectively was leverage their incumbencies to have huge financial advantages over their Republican opponents. We believe that American Crossroads by evening out the playing field kept this what was essentially a 2-point race at the end."