This is part 6 of our look back on our fundraising and GOTV efforts in 2022.
It’s A Wrap! The Rest of Our Candidate Fundraising.
Let’s talk about the remaining candidate-related fundraising efforts.
A bit of background
We’ve already talked about our efforts to raise money in the five critical swing states where we directed the vast majority of our efforts: Michigan, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin. We’ve also discussed the 19 winnable House races in purple districts covered in the previous post.
As you surely know, most of our fundraising this cycle (roughly 80%) was focused on boots on the ground organizations in critical swing states. The comments on our “look back” fundraising threads reflect that we all seem to generally agree with the emphasis on boots on the ground, with a side order of strategic donations to candidates. So, again, we’ve targeted traditionally overlooked races where we can make a difference, where a boost toward the end can help a candidate who is close, but struggling, and where that difference would have nationwide consequences.
This post will address the remaining fundraising – with, or course, some overlap with previous discussions.
We mostly stayed out of the big money, well-funded Senate races. With a couple of exceptions. Incumbent Senator Catherine Masto-Cortez in Nevada was in trouble. And the national party appeared to be paying insufficient attention to this potential loss. We did a flash fundraiser that quickly raised $5,963 for the Senator in the waning days of the campaign. She won, but by only 1%.
In Georgia, we mostly focused our efforts on turnout organizations (Worker Power and Four Directions), but we also put up a thermometer for people who wanted to donate directly to the candidate for the runoff. We raised $7,400 directly for Senator Warnock’s campaign. Did you hear that he won?
Secretaries of State
Historically, the Republicans have done local races better than we have. This cycle, Trump supported election denying candidates in critical states, most of whom openly threatened to refuse to certify Democratic victories. We raised $14,311, the bulk of which ($13,173) went to the critical races in Arizona and Nevada, including a flash fundraiser for Cisco Aguilar in NV. Only one of Trump’s election-denying Secretary of State candidates – in Indiana – survived the primaries or generals. Thanks to those wins, no one is going to “find” a few thousand votes in AZ or NV in 2024!
This is also a state-wide office with potential nation-wide importance. AGs have the responsibility to enforce various laws, including election-related legislation and legislative assaults on reproductive freedom. Plus, Republican AGs routinely join together to prosecute regressive and harmful litigation on environmental issues, Obamacare, voting rights, etc. We raised $12,135 for AGs in four of our five target states: NV, GA, WI and AZ (the Michigan AG was in no real danger).
We also included Texas AG candidate Rochelle Garza in the thermometer. This was an investment in a promising future candidate – and someone who was giving the odious Ken Paxton a run for his money. Our candidates in AZ, NV and WI won. In Arizona in particular, AG Kris Mayes won by the narrowest of margins. Our $5,054 directed her way had to have helped!
We largely stayed out of the Governor’s races, even in our five targeted states. Still, we raised $25,820 for the Governors. We did a flash-fundraiser for Charlie Crist in Florida that raised over $9,000. At the time, he had just won the primary, and we thought a boost right out of the gate might give him a fighting chance against DeSatan. Alas, Democratic turnout ultimately cratered in Florida, especially among the young (a drop of 38% from the last midterm). But I don’t think any of us felt we could stand by and let DeSantis coast to victory without at least trying to cut into his margins. No regrets.
We also did a flash-fundraiser for Maine Governor Janet Mills. Janet wasn’t on our watchlist until MomSense alerted us to a last-minute dark money dump by the Republicans, who used that money to spread vicious lies about Mills. We raised over $8,000 for her in just a few hours. She won. She won by a big enough margin that she likely would have won without that. I like to think that we made a difference anyway, because in those first few hours of grave worry that the hideous attacks with dark money might derail her chances, they could surely see our $8,250 rolling in, donation by donation, as an indication that not everyone was falling for the lies. That surely added a spring in their step as they fought back against the lies. I like to think so, anyway.
The rest of the money was spent in Arizona (we won) and Nevada (we lost, which was disappointing, but at least the Republican wasn’t an election denier).
State Supreme Courts
We raised $10,147 for State Supreme Court races in three states – Ohio, Michigan, and North Carolina (with most of it going to three Ohio candidates). Ohio is frustrating. Coming into the election, the Republicans held a 4-3 majority on the State Supreme Court. Three of the four Republican seats were up for election. A Democratic majority could potentially strike down gerrymandered maps and prevent the worst of the anti-choice measures from being enforced. Alas, the Republicans won all three. Our modest contributions helped finance a Michigan blue wave (more on the “Michigan miracle” and the spike in turnout among women and younger voters in a future post).
Down-Ballot Races in Swing Districts in Swing States
This was perhaps our most creative and potentially impactful fundraising efforts: identifying local races with nationwide impact. Blue Guitarist identified local races in swing districts in swing states that could potentially 1) prevent the Republicans from obtaining a super-majority in states with a Democratic Governor; 2) flip a swing state legislature from red to blue; and/or 3) drive turnout in a local purple district that would help state-wide candidates. We raised $18,924 for a total of 22 down-ballot races in 6 states: PA (8), AZ (6), OH (3), NC (2), FL (2), and NV (1).
This strategy has the potential for long-term impact, but it’s challenging to evaluate whether and how our contributions may have made a difference. I think we will want to try this again for 2024, with an eye toward how we can evaluate success. Or, if evaluating success is really tough, we might want to view this as an investment in the future, even if we can’t measure tangible results.
In future posts, as we look ahead to the next cycle, we can talk about the swing district/swing state concept as well as the flash-fundraising concept, which in its purest form rescued Four Directions on election day during an unexpected snowstorm in Reno.
Overall, we did very well this cycle, and maybe we can do even better in 2024, with the experience from this cycle under our belt!
Again, great job everyone.
We want to say thank you to everyone who donated. Thank you to every Balloon Juice Angel, and to our repeat Angels! Thank you to MomSense who set the angels in motion with an offer to match ten $10 donations with her $100, and thank you to everyone who contributed in other ways.
Who says one person can’t make a difference? All of us working together? I think we made some pretty big waves! Together.
Good job everyone. And a special thanks to WaterGirl for coordinating all of this!
I’m glad we were so active in Nevada. The Nevada Dems were in…..well……disarray. The party’s progressive wing walked out. And thereafter, the establishment and progressive factions worked with little coordination, according to a series of LA Times articles. Official turnout efforts were disorganized, although a lot of heavy lifting was done by the Culinary Union (which, like Worker Power, is affiliated with United Here).
Nevada politics is fascinating, in a watching-a-train-wreck sort of way. Which I why I subscribed to Jon Ralston’s newsletter. My goodness, it makes California politics seem very tame.
” I think we will want to try this again for 2024, with an eye toward how we can evaluate success.”
Maybe this is one where we can ask? Like with Four Directions, maybe some of these campaigns can come in and answer questions during the cycle, and also agree to answer post-cycle on how our money impacted their run?
Outside of that: we could try to get access to whatever public information there is on the campaign and it’s spend. That’s far from a one-to-one correlation, and likely takes some legwork! But at least it gives some sense of where money in general was going in the cycle we contributed to them in.
Just my opinion, but I think these after action reports are a really good way to guide future directed funds. Hats off to the handfull of Jackals who did sustained heavy lifting- and to the boots on the ground groups and unions. I am glad to have thrown in cash when and where I could- and I so wish I had more funds to contribute to keep our wobbly democracy going.
With that specific comment about evaluating success, I was talking about how we evaluate success when we donate to down-ballot races – there’s really no way to draw a direct line to wins and losses up-ballot, and even turnout.
To speak more generally about evaluating success, yes, we talked in previous posts about plans to talk with folks from the various organizations as a follow, which might be in the form of a zoom anyone her can attend, or it might be a recorded zoom with those organizations and just a couple of us where we can sort of interview them in a followup conversation.
Adding another vote of thanks to everyone for their efforts during the election cycle; and a thank-you to WaterGirl for the superbly written post-election analyses.
I look forward to our 2024 efforts! We jackals play the long game. :)
Just a huge and hearty thank you to WaterGirl for organizing this mass of jackals and directing us which way to go to have the most impact!
I loved seeing the photo of boots on the ground in GA. Yes we can!
These post-election analyses are very, very good: we want our contributions targeted to where they’ll have the most impact, do the most good, and squeeze out electoral success.
Thank you for them, WG, and I look forward to our efforts in the special elections this year and the big cycle in 2024!
Thank you WaterGirl, both for these excellent post-election analyses and for your amazing efforts in coordinating all of this. I’m very inspired to be a small part of such a powerful group of like-minded folks.
@FelonyGovt: I appreciate all the kind words. I really do. But without all the donations by angels and all the donors, this would just have been a pile of ideas, going nowhere.
clap clap clap
This is the most positive, worthwhile use of funds – politically.
Here’s the thing: we need to not give up on North Carolina. Yes it swung way red this last cycle, but the cities are getting bigger and bigger with more people moving in. If we could get Four Directions to make some contacts with the Lumbee tribes down there maybe there can finally be a push to the purple side. Or I’m being hopelessly naïve here.
@Yutsano: There was a commenter here from the Lumbee area, a Tribe member (I think). Maybe he will turn up again.
But yeah, demographic trends in North Carolina seem to be going the Democrats’ way, not unlike Virginia before them.
@WaterGirl: Well despite what you just wrote I’ll send a thank you for all your organizing. And a big one to Momsense for kicking off the Angel matches. It’s amazing what that $100 example turned into.
@Almost Retired: Nevada is a, uh, interesting state in so many ways. I have a relative who works for the state and is a solid D; the point they made is that the old power at the state level is still clinging to gaming and mining as the only things they want to support for the local economy. The problem is that nearly every state has some kind of gaming industry now, and mining is the very definition of boom and bust. In many ways it’s like what was discussed yesterday about the local “landed gentry” in the rural US, the guys in charge want it to stay that way so they oppose anything that takes power away from their industries, or even has the potential to. Elmo brought in a battery facility in Carson City, which made the housing cost issue so much worse, but Elmo gets a pass from libertoonians everywhere. The rural areas of NV contain some of the scariest antisocial gun nuts anywhere. Without Las Vegas, NV would be solid hard red.
@StringOnAStick: This is so true. To one of your points, people tend to talk about Phoenix and Tucson and Las Vegas and Reno as the blue spots in an otherwise red state.
That’s not entirely accurate in Nevada. Washoe County is absolutely NOT a northern version of Clark County. It’s a populated area that is barely (and not always) a little bit blue.
Plus, there is so much in-migration and out-migration in Nevada that what you thought you knew about the electorate last time is already outdated. Are you in NV?
Thanks for the recap, WaterGirl!
And reminder to everyone that if you’re a postcard writer, we’ll hopefully have a postcarding thread tomorrow night at 8pm eastern (blog time)/7pm central.
Also, I’ll be looking for returns on Patricia Lawton since I wrote postcards for her a few weeks ago! 😊
North Carolina is definitely on our radar as a new state to add to the other key critical states.
Watergirl, I just want to thank you for all you have done and continue to do here.