By Tom Watson
The first fundraising numbers of the 2016 primary campaign for president are out and they’re a stunner: Hillary has raised more than $45 million in the last quarter, with 91 percent of donations coming from supporters who gave $100 or less.
This matters for two crucial reasons:
For one, it builds on the massive, but under-appreciated, grassroots groundswell of support for Hillary’s quest to become the first woman president, a campaign that began with the organizers of Ready for Hillary almost the moment she left her position as Secretary of State.
Secondly, it destroys a persistent – and false – media narrative that Hillary is just a candidate of moneyed corporate interests, that she lacks authenticity to appeal to grassroots organizers and activists.
We know very well as #HillaryMen that this has always been a complete falsehood. In her historic 2008 campaign, Hillary had tremendous grassroots support and did very well with small donors and activists. It’s just that Barack Obama did even better.
This time around, Hillary’s grassroots strength is unmatched on either side. She has organizers working to build networks in all 50 states and her organizing in the four early voting states is unmatched. As this quarter’s fundraising numbers prove, those organizing efforts are paying off. Of course, the table was well set by organizers over the past two-plus years: Ready for Hillary attracted more than four million Americans to the cause of electing the first woman president.
If you were on Twitter last weekend (and we were!) you might have noticed a slew of photos, selfies, and posts from people using Hillary’s campaign logo in all its diversity. These were organizers from around the country who dedicated their weekends to signing up fellow travelers, donors, and activists. There were photos from places like Alabama, North Dakota, Utah, and Mississippi, not exactly the heart of the Democratic base. But already, they’re out there organizing, ringing doorbells, canvassing neighborhoods, phone-banking – even in red states.
Marlon Marshall was one of the organizing masters who helped catapult President Obama’s campaign to record numbers. This time around, he’s on Hillary’s team and these are the early numbers he proudly shared recently:
● 50 Organizers in the Early Primary States
● 15 Offices in the Early Primary States, with more to come
● 3,874 One-on-One Meetings with Potential Supporters in the Early Primary States
● 11,869 Commitments to Volunteer in Early Primary States
● 51 Organizers Building Volunteer Networks in the 46 non-Early Primary states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Territories
● 320 Grassroots Organizing Meetings held or scheduled in the non-Early Primary States
● Nearly 11,000 attendees at Grassroots Organizing Meetings in non-Early primary States
In her note to early donors today, Hillary wrote this: “When the road ahead is tough, you need the best people by your side.” Her campaign manager, Robby Mook, was quick to point out that at least one Republican candidate is expected to raise more than $100 million. This battle will not be easy.
And it’s not necessarily easy on the Democratic side either. Hillary is taking nothing for granted in the primary. All $45 million raised this quarter is designated for the primary campaign.
Peter Daou and Tom Watson founded #HillaryMen to provide actionable analysis of the 2016 campaign focusing on the gender barrier in U.S. politics. Peter is a former senior digital adviser to Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative. He is a veteran of two presidential campaigns (Kerry '04 and Clinton '08). Tom is an author and Columbia University lecturer who advises companies and non-profits on social activism.