Now, locked out of power in Congress, Democrats’ best hope at pressuring Senate Republicans not to pass the bill is to send a message that any Republican who supports it will pay a political price.
It may be more difficult to raise money in fundraising drives not directly tied to a specific candidate, however. The current effort will test how much Democrats are willing to shell out in opposition to a specific piece of legislation, or in service of the overarching goal of winning back the House, in the Trump era.
It’s still less than 24 hours since House Republicans passed their legislation, but so far the fundraising drive has generated far less money than several relatively recent and high-profile fundraising pitches associated with a particular political candidate.
Zeynep Tufekci, the author of a new book titled “Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest”, commented on Friday morning on Twitter that the roughly $1.2 million raised so far is “a paltry sum.”
Donald Trump’s presidential campaign reported an $18 million online fundraising haul in a 24-hour period after a presidential debate. Bernie Sanders raised roughly $6 million in just over 20 hours after he won the New Hampshire Democratic primary. And Jon Ossoff, a Democratic candidate running in a Republican district in a Georgia special election, has raised over $8 million in his race, a total that has also been spurred on by online donations and appears to have set a record for a congressional candidate.
If Democrats can expand their online fundraising beyond specific candidates, that could open up new possibilities for amassing reserves of money in advance of elections.
In its pitch for donations, the liberal website Daily Kos argues that a surge in donations “would both terrify Republicans and boost Democratic efforts to recruit good candidates … [and] help us defeat these Republicans next year.” The appeal directs readers to an ActBlue page raising money that will be earmarked for future Democratic challengers in 24 Republican-controlled districts where Trump won less than 50 percent of the vote in November and whose lawmakers voted in support of the GOP health-care bill.
Republican lawmakers who represent districts that Clinton carried, including Martha McSally in Arizona, Carlos Curbelo in Florida, and Darrell Issa in California, all appear on the list. As of 10:27 a.m. EST on Friday, the fundraising page had raised $807,604.
A separate ActBlue page for Democratic challengers to any House Republican who voted to support the bill had raised $405,783 by 10:27 a.m. EST on Friday. And Hillary Clinton took to Twitter to promote what appeared to be a different ActBlue page to fund challengers to Republicans who voted for the bill in swing districts.