WASHINGTON ― The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised a record-breaking $31 million in the first quarter of the year, the House Democrats’ campaign arm announced on Friday.
The organization’s historic haul, first reported by the Hill, includes $13.2 million in donations in March alone. But the DCCC still trails its Republican counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee, which raised $36 million in the first quarter.
The DCCC, nonetheless, massively outpaced the NRCC in online fundraising over the same period, bringing in around $13.7 million compared with the Republicans’ $1.7 million. The digital fundraising total came from 750,000 individual contributions, including gifts from 121,000 first-time donors, according to the DCCC.
The Democratic campaign arm touted the strong fundraising performance, including the online figures, as evidence that the backlash to President Donald Trump is lifting Democratic fortunes.
“Our record-breaking fundraising is a clear reflection of the urgency that people have towards fighting back against a reckless Republican agenda, including ongoing efforts to rip apart the Affordable Care Act,” DCCC spokesman Tyler Law said in a press release. “The massive amount of small-dollar, online donations – much of which came from first time donors – provides another clear sign that the grassroots energy is behind House Democrats this cycle.”
The DCCC’s announcement follows other signs that Democrats are benefiting from high enthusiasm within their base in the wake of Trump’s election. ActBlue, the website that processes donations to Democratic candidates and causes, reported last week that it had processed more than $111 million in online donations in the first quarter of the year. The figure is four times the total haul in the first quarter of 2015, the last non-election year.
Special elections for several open House seats and dozens of posts in state legislatures give Democrats a chance to capitalize on this excitement long before the 2018 midterm elections.
In a special election to fill the congressional seat in Kansas’ deep-red 4th district last Tuesday, the Democratic candidate James Thompson lost by just 7 percentage points, after Republican Mike Pompeo, who is now CIA director, won by more than 30 points in 2016. Thompson benefited from a last-minute infusion of $200,000 raised by readers of the liberal site Daily Kos and other activists, but got only a modicum of assistance from the DCCC.
Democrats now have their hearts set on special elections in Montana and Georgia’s 6th district. The latter race, to fill a seat vacated by Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, has received significant investment from the DCCC and outside groups like Daily Kos.
Jon Ossoff, the leading 30-year-old Democratic candidate in Georgia’s 6th district, is hoping to win an outright majority in the first round of voting next Tuesday. Strong Democratic turnout in early voting looks good for him, but if he fails to gain a majority in the first round, where he is competing with many candidates, he will have to enter a runoff with a Republican on June 20. His chances in the runoff look considerably slimmer.