Small-dollar Democratic donors give $420 million through ActBlue in first half of year

By Sarah Ewall-Wice

/ CBS News

Political video ad spending expected to grow

The Democratic fundraising nonprofit ActBlue announced small donors gave $420 million using their technology in the first half of the year.

With the election still more than a year away, 3.3 million people donated to nearly 9,000 Democratic campaigns and progressive organizations, the organization said. The average donation was $32.

In the second quarter of the year alone, donors gave $246 million.

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"Small-dollar donors are already showing that they will be a force in races up and down the ballot this cycle. These numbers show that there is incredible energy among the grassroots already, and we're still more than a year out from Election Day," said ActBlue Executive Director Erin Hill in a statement.

"We're seeing millions of donors, record-breaking totals every quarter, and a rapidly-growing small-dollar army that is ready to help Democrats take back everything from school boards to the White House next year."

ActBlue said it raised $170 million more in the first half of 2019 than it did by the same stage in the 2018 midterm election cycle. As of July 2017, it had only raised $249 million from grassroots donors.

The 3.3 million donors giving in the first half of this year is also on track to break records. ActBlue said 4.9 million donors gave using their technology over the entire course of the 2018 election cycle.

ActBlue's cash haul was aided by a surge in donations towards the end of the fundraising period. Over one million donors gave in the last ten days of the second quarter. The largest number of contributions came on June 30th, with 390,000 donations.

Despite it being a presidential year, ActBlue users gave twice as much money in the first half of the year to win and protect state legislative seats as they did at this point in the 2018 cycle. Of donors who have given to both a presidential candidate and another candidate or group, more than half gave their first contribution of the year to the non-presidential candidate or organization before going on to donate in the presidential race. ActBlue also saw three times as much money given to local candidates and groups as it did in the last election cycle.

Apart from giving to Democratic candidates, people are also donating to help causes and push back against Trump administration policies. According to ActBlue, small-dollar donors raised $1.3 million in the second quarter for groups helping parents and children separated at the border.

And many donors are making a habit of contributing to Democratic causes, with 40% of them giving repeatedly in the first half of the year. More than $77 million of the total money raised came from reoccurring contributions.

In June, President Trump and the Republican National Committee celebrated the launch of WinRed, which is seen as the GOP equivalent of ActBlue. This week, Mr. Trump, his committees and the RNC revealed that they raised $123 million in the second quarter of 2019.

First published on July 17, 2019 / 9:03 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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