I read with deep distress Robert Draper's Times Mag chronicle of how the Democrats, taking their cue mainly from Obama, unilaterally disarmed in the Super PAC battles in this election cycle and are now staring down the barrel of a billion dollar GOP juggernaut while Priorities USA struggles to raise $100 million tops.
Draper's look back at the relative potency of Democrat-supporting 527s in 2004 and 2006 carried me back to the 2004 campaign, the first in which I used online phone tools for voter outreach. Obama's innovation in 2008 was to center those tools in his own campaign organization; in 2004 I relied on MoveOn and I think ACT, Americans Coming Together, or possibly other outside groups, to set me up. I got their emails and sent them money, sometimes in response to requests to fund a particular ad -- including one of a not-yet-famous Cindy Sheehan weeping into the camera as she made a "Bush-lied-my-son-died" accusation. That one was created by a tiny outside group, but MoveOn briefly took it up and did ad buys for it.
For some time, as I've read about the woes of Priorities USA pitching fastidious left-leaning multimillionaires who turn up their noses at Super PACs, I've wondered whether Priorities couldn't go to the highways and byways as its predecessors did and raise significant money from small donors (so far, less than 1% of its funding has come from small donors). Would this cannibalize the fundraising of the Obama campaign and the DNC, or could it squeeze additional dollars out of the base? I recall the old techniques: watch this ad and fund it. Given the megatonnage of lying bilge to be dropped on Obama's head by Crossroads et al, I would be more than responsive to a counterpitch: Obama shouldn't get his hands dirty with this (cue foreign bank and fund holdings, Bain factory closing, etc.), but we can. Here's the ad that defines Romney; here's the ad that nails the connection between his business experience and his policy preferences, etc. etc.
I would respond. I would donate to Priorities if they ask me - $100 at a shot, not a million. How many others would?
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