WASHINGTON (AP) – In the first week after the Supreme Court stripped a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, Democrats and aligned groups raised more than $80 million, a tangible early sign that the decision may energize voters.
But party officials say donors are giving much of that money to national campaigns and causes rather than races for state office, where abortion policy will now be shaped as a result of the court’s decision. That’s where Republicans hold disproportionate power after more than a decade of pouring money and resources into crucial but often overlooked contests.
Fundraising inequality offers an example of how a lack of long-term planning can lead to both structural disadvantage and an enraged Democratic base. Absent the votes to pass legislation through a deadlocked and closely divided Congress, abortion rights now appear to be the last issue largely ceded to the states. This comes after failed attempts by Democrats to expand voting rights, curb violent behavior and significantly strengthen gun laws.
“We can no longer tolerate the systemic neglect of Democratic races to the bottom — not when Republicans want to interfere in our decisions about our health care, our bedrooms and our marriages,” said Gabrielle Chew, a spokeswoman for the Legislative Campaign Committee of the Democrats, which helps fund state legislative races. “This should be a wake-up call.”
The massive $80 million fundraiser was recorded by ActBlue, the Democrats’ online fundraising platform, which has a real-time ticker showing how much money is flowing through the organization. ActBlue raised more than $20 million in the first 24 hours after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that ruled abortion a constitutional right. By Tuesday, the group had processed more than $51 million in donations, and by Friday, the total had reached $80 million.
In fact, all major Democratic campaign committees reported an increase in contributions after the ruling, including those working at the state level as well as in federal races. Planned Parenthood, too.. But few were willing to release hard numbers.
WinRed, the online fundraising portal for the Republican Party, did not respond to an inquiry about the party’s fundraising after the court ruling.
The fundraising disparity is nothing new between Democratic groups that work for state candidates and those that focus on national issues after a defining moment. For example, ActBlue raised more than $71 million in just 24 hours after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, some of which went to groups working on state-level campaigns.
Consider the case of Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison, who in 2020 broke fundraising records in his long-running effort to oust Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham from South Carolina and go to Congress in Washington. Harrison ended up losing the game by more than 10 points. He raised more than $57 million during the final months of his campaign, including a 24-hour period in which he raised more than $1 million.
But for the states? The Democratic Governors Association said it had raised $200,000 after the court’s ruling last week. The organization said Thursday it was on pace to raise $1 million before the start of the July Fourth weekend, which is less than other committees focused on national races.
The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which raises money for state races across the country, declined to say how much it has received since the court’s decision. However, past fundraising figures show how under-resourced the group is.
The DLCC raised $650,000 within 48 hours after a leaked copy of the court ruling surfaced in May. Earlier this year, it celebrated when it announced it had raised nearly $6 million in the last three months of last year.
The GOP’s counterpart, the Republican State Leadership Committee, raised more than double that during the same period last year.
“When Democrats (spend) 1-to-1 with Republicans in legislative races, we beat them,” said Greg Goddard, a Florida Democrat who raises money for national and state campaigns. “But when it’s 3-to-1 or 4-to-1, we get confused.”
Amanda Litman, co-founder of the group Run For Something, which recruits candidates to run in school board, city council and legislative races, said Democrats have a dismal record of investing in races that also build a bench. of future talent.
“The worst laws are going to come from the reddest states, and they’re not going to stay at those red state borders. So what are you going to do to mitigate the damage?” Littman said after the abortion decision. “I want to see Joe Biden fundraise for DLCC and DGA.”
The Democratic fundraising ecosystem typically rewards social media stars, those who appear on popular liberal talk shows like Rachel Maddow, or candidates who go viral online. That’s especially difficult for candidates in races that don’t draw much attention away from home, like most legislative contests.
Meanwhile, big dollar donors have historically given to national candidates or groups focused on the presidency or Congress.
Still, some Democrats argue that the election contests aren’t getting enough attention.
Sam Newton, a spokesman for the governors’ association, said it has its own success story to tell. Democratic candidates in key states saw large increases in donations after the court ruling, he said. The group has also closed a 2-to-1 fundraising gap with Republicans that existed less than a decade ago, reaching parity last year.
Planned Parenthood is part of a joint effort with the abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America and EMILY’s List, which supports women running for office, which plans to spend $150 million or more in the midterm elections. 2022, said Jenny Lawson, executive. director of Planned Parenthood Votes.
Gubernatorial races will be a major focus, she said, citing Michigan and Wisconsin in particular, where decades-old laws banning abortion are still on the books. (Michigan’s law dates to 1931; Wisconsin’s to 1849.) Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, both Democrats, face tough re-election battles.
“These governors have stood up to these Republican legislatures that want nothing more than to ban abortion and said ‘no,'” Lawson said. “These governors are on the front lines and we need to protect them.”
But others are skeptical that the effort will trickle down outside of high-profile games.
Littman said some party donors are embracing the idea of giving to ballot contests. But there remains a culture in the party, particularly among big donors, of chasing the “bright, shiny object,” he said. Republicans, meanwhile, treat political giving as a “business investment — you get the judges and the tax cuts” and “spend money patiently knowing it’s going to pay off,” he said.
“We have to balance our short-term immediate electoral goals with a long-term mission to win back those seats,” Litman said.
Follow AP for complete coverage of the midterms at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and on Twitter, https://twitter.com/ap_politics