The Untold Money Story

According to ActBlue, the Democratic fundraising site, Eric Massa raised an astonishing $724K from over 12,000 donors online. That's an average of about 50 bucks per donor.

In contrast, the Obama campaign raised half a billion dollars from 3 million donors. That's about $167 per donor on average. About 2 1/2% of those voting in the presidential race donated to Obama.

Though Obama's totals are getting all the press, Massa's are equally breathtaking. For very little effort compared to traditional fundraising, Massa was able to raise about 1/3 of his total bankroll.

Last cycle, Massa raised $415K from around 7,200 ActBlue supporters. Even though a huge amount of cash was funneled to the Obama campaign, Massa was able to tap another $300K from an additional 5,000 ActBlue donors. This indicates that we're just scratching the surface of the number of people willing to send a few bucks to some Congressional candidates who share their political views.

Some might object to ActBlue on the grounds that it allows influence from outside the district. But that's true of most of the money in contested Congressional campaigns. Union and corporate PACs contributions, party money and donations from sitting Members of Congress poured into this race. The difference between that money and ActBlue contributions is that the former comes with strings attached.

ActBlue, like Obama's millions of small donors, is a better way to finance campaigns, and we'll be seeing more of this kind of financing in future races.


I wonder if this kind of contributions will become normalized like voting, or whether it took an extraordinary set of characters and events to make this happen.

I think the ActBlue model of a middleman aggregator that assists new candidates in fundraising is now the new standard for fundraising in Congressional races, at least for challengers. I suspect that ActBlue's role in the 29th next cycle will depend on whether Massa has a well-funded, credible challenger.