In the smartphone age digital donors are paramount
Over the weekend the New York Times published the above chart showing the number of potential online financial supporters that those who have declared that they are running for the Democratic nomination and those who are tipped to put their hat into the ring have available to them.
Given that there are strict US rules on the maximum that an individual can give to a contender then the ability to generate huge amounts from small donations is going to be determined at first by the numbers that you are in contact with in this case having active email addresses and mobile phone numbers.
We cannot assume that these totals for each contender are exclusive. There is almost certainly a very large amount of overlap. There can be little doubt, for instance, that the huge Sanders total includes many who are on the Warren list and so on.
Recency is also an important element and here the overall total is probably more potent for the Texan than the large Sanders figure which dates back to 2012. My guess is that a large part of the O’Rourke total would have come in the past year. His success at raising record amounts from all parts of the US for his ultimately unsuccessful Texas Senator fight against Ted Cruz was what brought him national attention.
Even if Sanders decides not to run he will be in a very strong position to influence the nomination race by being able to put his lists at the disposal of other contenders with whom he is ready to give backing.
My assumption is that the campaigns will also have relatively up-to-date payment card information for a large part of the numbers that they are in contact with. This will allow text message appeals and other asks to take place with very little that responders have to do in order to transfer the money. Just look at how Amazon became so powerful because it is so easy to pay.
Digital donors provide the potential to fuel a campaign over prolonged periods. Once you’ve given and are on the list you’ll be asked time and time again.
The lists of contacts will also be very useful for non fundraising purposes particularly in getting information to activists in caucus states – those where the nomination decisions are not made at a primary election run by the state but rather the party machine. This could play a huge part in Iowa a year from now which is the very first State to decide and one whose outcome can set the tone for the rest of the nomination fight.
In the nomination betting Harris remains the strong favourite on about a 23% chance with Biden and O’Rourke some way behind.