[Marxism] Liberals See Hillary Clinton’s Focus on Big Donors as Bafflingly Dated
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Sun Sep 25 10:12:38 MDT 2016
Liberals See Hillary Clinton’s Focus on Big Donors as Bafflingly Dated
By JONATHAN MARTINSEPT. 21, 2016
Hillary Clinton at a fund-raiser in New York City earlier this month.
She has raised more money than Donald J. Trump, mostly from rich donors.
Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times
WASHINGTON — In 2012, B. Rowe Winecoff, a retired social worker from
Newton, Iowa, contributed $120 to President Obama’s re-election
campaign. But he has yet to give any money to Hillary Clinton in this
election. “This year just seems dirtier than ever,” said Mr. Winecoff, a
Democrat, explaining why he has not contributed to the candidate he
intends to vote for.
Even as newly released financial disclosures reveal that Mrs. Clinton
enjoys a substantial fund-raising advantage over Donald J. Trump, she is
struggling to replicate the sort of small-dollar juggernaut that Mr.
Obama enjoyed in his campaigns and Senator Bernie Sanders relied on in
this year’s Democratic primaries.
In an illustration of the lack of enthusiasm for her among some liberal
activists, just 24 percent of the contributors to Mrs. Clinton’s
campaign so far have given $200 or less. In 2012, 43 percent of the
money to Mr. Obama was from contributors who gave $200 or less, and this
year 58 percent of the giving to Mr. Sanders’s grass-roots bid came from
Without this online network, Mrs. Clinton is being made to continue with
an aggressive calendar of fund-raisers with rich donors as Election Day
grows near — events that can limit her time in swing states and
reinforce concerns that give rank-and-file Democrats pause.
“Hillary has been at so many fund-raisers and off the campaign trail,”
said Mr. Winecoff, bringing up her schedule without prompting. “And a
lot of money is coming from special interests, so we’re concerned about
what that’s going to mean.”
Since Labor Day, the traditional start of general election campaigns,
Mrs. Clinton has appeared at nine fund-raisers while attending five
public events in swing states. And that does not include the multiple
money events she was set to attend in California, but instead sent Bill
Clinton to after she came down with pneumonia.
Mrs. Clinton has tried to meld her need to raise money for
advertisements and voter-turnout efforts with her retail campaign. But
it can be a stretch. After addressing college students at Temple
University this week, for example, she attended a fund-raiser hosted by
David L. Cohen, a Comcast executive and Philadelphia Democratic
powerhouse, that brought in roughly $3 million. Trying to keep with the
day’s theme, college students and young Comcast employees were also
invited, to interact with Mrs. Clinton in the kind of rarefied small
setting typically reserved for wealthy contributors.
Continue reading the main story “What Bernie did in the primary was
truly incredible, but we’re very happy with the state of our grass-roots
fund-raising,” said Josh Scherwin, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, adding
that “September is shaping up to be our best month for online
But the campaign’s traditional approach to raising money is maddening to
many Democrats, particularly liberals who have witnessed the evolution
of online fund-raising and are baffled at why Mrs. Clinton is so
committed to an approach they see as nearly as dated as torchlight parades.
“It boggles my mind that the Clinton campaign didn’t learn their lessons
from 2012 or even earlier this year, and haven’t moved toward a more
open and public campaign, one that constantly has her in front of real
people instead of rich people,” said Markos Moulitsas, the founder of
the blog Daily Kos.
Graphic: Donors for Bush, Kasich and Christie Are Turning to Clinton
More Than to Trump He continued: “Sanders certainly proved that if you
focus all of your energy on the voting public, that core supporters will
reward that love with real money. Instead, Clinton’s campaign still
seems stuck on the old model of never-ending high-dollar fund-raisers.
As a result, she looks secluded and out of reach, further reinforcing
the notion that she cares more about the wealthy than regular folks.”
This close to the election, though, Mrs. Clinton may not have much of a
choice. Given Democratic fears of Mr. Trump and her advantage in the
race, there is an intense demand for her in the ranks of major
“Just trying to find a date has been a challenge,” said James Hodges, a
former South Carolina governor who has been trying to organize an event
for Mrs. Clinton before the election. Further, the very fund-raising
model she is depending on demands a continued stream of events with
contribution levels that begin at five figures and often run higher. It
is an approach that she and Mr. Clinton are well acquainted with, dating
to the 1990s when raising soft money for the national parties was legal.
They have enduring relationships with donors in all 50 states going back
to those days. So unlike in the campaigns of Mr. Obama and Mr. Sanders,
who began as insurgents, necessity has not demanded that Mrs. Clinton
raise money any other way. (Mr. Obama ultimately fashioned a network
that relied on both modest givers and the wealthy.)
“She’s invested heavily in the infrastructure of human beings: finance
directors across the country, photo lines and donor-circle membership,”
said Scott Goodstein, the founder of Revolution Messaging, an online
Democratic fund-raising firm. “Now they’ve got to play that out. She,
unfortunately, made that commitment to do those five house parties or
what have you in New York and now she has to stand on that because her
bundler network needs it.”
Mr. Goodstein, whose firm ran Mr. Sanders’s online fund-raising effort,
added that “the mistake that I think they made was not reaching deeper,
building deeper infrastructure and a deeper coalition.”
Instead, she is relying on the sort of access-oriented fund-raising that
is a staple of Washington. And she is not the only one making herself
available to major contributors who want to influence policy. This
month, for example, Michele Flournoy, who is seen as a favorite to be
Mrs. Clinton’s defense secretary, headlined a fund-raiser in
defense-industry-rich Northern Virginia where the top contribution
requested was $5,000.
Mrs. Clinton’s low-dollar fund-raising has picked up in recent months,
and over half of the total money she raised last month came through
online contributions, according to a campaign aide.
And with polls tightening, Democrats expect Mrs. Clinton’s online
success to pick up.“Urgency really drives action,” said Mitch Stewart, a
veteran of Mr. Obama’s campaigns.
It is Mr. Trump who is drawing more from modest givers as a percentage
of his total contributions. Sixty-one percent of his donations through
the end of July were in amounts of $200 or less, a figure that is partly
explained by the resistance to his candidacy from wealthy Republican
Yet many in Mrs. Clinton’s own party believe she could have done far
better had she made Democratic activists feel as invested as the party’s
“The campaigns with the most effective networks of small-dollar donors
are the campaigns where small-dollar donors feel their donations
matter,” said Ari Rabin-Havt, a SiriusXM radio host who has worked on
online fund-raising campaigns for Democrats.
Agustin Armendariz, Amy Chozick and Rachel Shorey contributed reporting.
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