Battle Is On for Small-Dollar Donations

The nomination may come down to whether primary voters want a fighter or a healer.

Feb. 11, 2019, 11:08 a.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) “would begin a 2020 presidential bid with 2.1 million online donors, a massive lead among low-dollar contributors that is roughly equivalent to the donor base of all the other Democratic hopefuls combined." Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) "is also poised to be a fund-raising phenom if he runs for president: He has twice as many online donors as anyone eyeing the race besides Mr. Sanders.

“Three senators who are already running have their own solid track records with small donors." Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), "with the third-highest number, has notable strength in New Hampshire, even topping Mr. O’Rourke there." Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) "has built up broad national support among small donors, despite a reputation as a big-money fund-raiser, while" Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) "raised $1.5 million online in her first 24 hours as a presidential candidate.

“Small-dollar donations are expected to be a huge deal in 2020—the renewable resource that Democratic candidates will depend upon to fuel their campaigns. And those five Democrats represent a distinctive top tier with the most formidable followings, each counting a base of at least 230,000 online donors, according to… an analysis of six years of federal election filings from ActBlue, the Democratic Party’s dominant donation-processing platform.” (New York Times)

TAXING THE RICH. “The only thing more startling than the flurry of tax proposals Democrats have unveiled in recent weeks is the full-throttle response they’ve gotten from the public. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) suggested a near doubling of the top income tax rate. … Sanders … introduced a bill to raise taxes on dynastic heirs. And … Warren proposed a levy that has never existed in the United States: a wealth tax, assessed annually on America’s biggest fortunes.

“The soak-the-rich plans—ones that were only recently considered ridiculously far-fetched or political poison—have received serious and sober treatment, even by critics, and remarkably broad encouragement from the electorate. Roughly three out of four registered voters surveyed in recent polls supported higher taxes on the wealthy. Even a majority of Republicans back higher rates on those earning more than $10 million, according to a Fox News poll conducted in mid-January.” (New York Times)

VIRGINIA. “Virginia over the past decade has been one of the Democratic Party's great success stories. It went from a reliably Republican state to one in which Democrats held the lion's share of key political offices. This disaster tarnishes that rise -- and threatens to hand Republicans an opportunity this fall and beyond.” (CNN)

BREAKTHROUGH MOMENT. “That ‘highest and hardest glass ceiling’ Hillary Clinton talked about shattering? As of Monday, there were five more big cracks.”

“They surfaced after a weekend in which" Warren "formally announced her presidential campaign Saturday and" Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) entered the race Sunday, joining" Gillibrand, Harris, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. "The roster of women officeholders vying for the Democratic nomination now numbers five—more than in any presidential primary election in history.

“It’s a groundbreaking moment, one that nearly all of the candidates paid homage to in their campaign launches. But it’s also a convergence of the political forces unleashed by the Trump era. The president’s style, rhetoric and policies have generated a backlash among women that has turned the traditional gender gap between the parties into a chasm, and that dynamic is already beginning to color every aspect of the upcoming presidential campaign—from the messaging to the kind of candidates Democrats are considering nominating to the very shape of the electorate on Election Day 2020.” (Politico)

FIGHTER OR HEALER? Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) “glided into the state first, offering himself as a herald of peace in a northern Iowa church that advertised ‘radical hospitality’ on its marquee. As a rainbow cracked the frozen sky outside, Mr. Booker spoke of restoring ‘grace and decency’ and erasing ‘the lines that people think divide us — racial lines, religious lines, geographic lines.’” Warren “arrived soon after, still thrumming with the energy of a weekend announcement speech in Lawrence, Mass. Having vowed there to ‘fight my heart out’ against government corruption and corporate power, Ms. Warren roused the crowd in snow-blanketed Cedar Rapids on Sunday not with bounteous optimism but a call to arms. Warren: ‘This is the time… to take on the fight.’

“In the space of a weekend, the two Democrats mapped the philosophical and temperamental fork their party must navigate as it challenges President Trump in 2020. Down one path, Mr. Booker’s, lies a mission of healing and hope, with a campaign to bind up social wounds that have deepened in the Trump era. The other path, Ms. Warren’s, promises combat and more combat—a crusade not just to defeat Mr. Trump but to demolish the architecture of his government.As much as any disputation over policy, this gulf defines the Democratic presidential field, separating candidates of disparate backgrounds and ideologies into two loose groups: fighters and healers.” (New York Times)

DRUG PRICES. “A bold stance on drug pricing will be a prerequisite for any candidate who wants to win the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, but one challenge will be differentiating the contenders from each other.

“The main distinction among candidates could be between those pushing bipartisan policies and those promoting more liberal ideas that currently stand little chance of enactment. But in most cases, the bills have a list of co-sponsors that could resemble a future primary debate stage.” (Roll Call)

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