Politico

ActBlue chief hails Biden’s small-dollar donor operation


ActBlue executive director Erin Hill assessed in a new interview that the impressive fundraising numbers posted by Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in recent weeks are the result of his campaign “centering their grassroots” and homing in on small-dollar donors.

“I think if you’ve seen the numbers over the past few weeks, they’re doing really, really well in their digital work. And I think that that’s because they’re centering their grassroots,” Hill told host Anna Palmer in the latest episode of POLITICO’s Women Rule podcast published Wednesday.

Hill, who heads up the online donation platform preferred by thousands of Democratic candidates and organizations, pointed specifically to the Biden campaign’s rollout of California Sen. Kamala Harris as the former vice president’s running mate last month — a selection revealed in an afternoon text message to supporters.

“They announced that to their grassroots, first and foremost. That message didn’t go out to the media at first. It went out to their list,” Hill said. “And I think that they’re doing a great job of making sure that they’re helping people feel involved in that campaign, and they’re letting grassroots donors know that they need them.”

Hill also pointed to the Biden campaign’s work during the virtual Democratic National Convention last month, which featured a “whole series of small-dollar events where they were making [Biden] and [Harris] and other luminaries in the party kind of available, talking directly to the grassroots with a really low price point.”

“They were making sure to keep their folks engaged through emails and through text all through the week,” she said, noting that appeals to donate from the convention’s celebrity emcees were helpful, too.

Biden, who struggled cultivating small-dollar donors during the Democratic primary compared to candidates such as Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, raised $26 million in the 24 hours after he announced Harris as his running mate — a massive haul that included contributions from 150,000 first-time donors.

Biden followed up that solid fundraising performance by reporting last week that he and the Democratic National Committee had raised $365 million in August, doubling President Donald Trump’s $165 million haul from July and also surpassing the $193 million raised by Barack Obama in September 2008.

“I think the average contribution was like $40. We have over 1.6 million people who contributed in the middle of this economic crisis, somewhere between $5, $10, $15,” Biden said. “I’d say that shows some genuine enthusiasm about making sure we have a chance at becoming president of the United States.”

Hill told POLITICO that the Biden campaign’s “huge fundraising numbers” were the result of the “amazing work that they’re doing to really center small-dollar donors and make sure that that’s a fundamental grassroots campaign,” adding: “I think they’re doing really, really well.”

Meanwhile, the Trump campaign’s historic cash advantage over Biden has all but evaporated, with the president’s reelection effort having already spent more than $800 million of the $1.1 billion it raised in coordination with the Republican National Committee from the beginning of 2019 through July, according to a review by The New York Times published Monday.

Trump rejected the Times report Tuesday and insisted his campaign was financially “doing very well” less than 60 days before the November election. But he also said he would be willing to contribute “whatever it takes” from his own personal fortune to help finance his bid for a second term.

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