So, I spent most of last night watching the numbers tick upwards on ActBlue, wondering why people weren't doing more fundraising at 2AM Eastern. Then I took a moment, assessed the ambient level of crazy in my apartment (high!), and went to bed.
At 10AM the next morning, ActBlue hit one hundred million dollars.
Before I get all long-form narrative on you, I just wanted to give you an idea of the scale of that accomplishment. The number doesn't really do it justice. Those $100 million dollars went out to a pool of candidates and committees ten times larger than the US House (>4,500), and the median donation size was just $50. If you think that number is disguising a large average donation, you're wrong. The average donation was just $62.
In other words, it's a fall-out-of-your-chair achievement. Check out Hekebolos, the ActBlog and Chris Good over at the Atlantic for some other good takes on this. I have my own, which you can read below:
I know I tend to talk about this a lot, but 2004 wasn't all that long ago.
In 2004, when people heard about political giving, it was always treated like something dirty. You had your Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, your conservatives screaming about George Soros funding the moon landings (potential birther tie-in there) or whatever the crazy of the day was, and all the rest. That's how people understood political fundraising--smoke filled rooms and a lingering sense of disenfranchisement.
As a result, people felt like they didn't have a voice in the political fundraising process. ActBlue set out to give them a voice, and over the past five years those same folks have made us the largest single source of funds for Democrats online or offline. When I say we're "by Democrats, for Democrats," (I say it a lot) that's what I mean.
At ActBlue we think that raising money for the candidates you support should be normal. It should be a way for you to demonstrate a commitment to the people and issues you care about. And most important, it should be transparent, so people can see where the money is coming from and where it's going.
And it's more than theory. When I was at Netroots Nation, I met one of the recipients of our spare NN09 passes, Edrie Irvine, and she told me something amazing. She said she keeps a list in her house of all the things she routinely purchases in a month, and every month she crosses off a couple so she can afford her recurring contribution to ActBlue. That's how I think political giving should be seen--as one of many small everyday expenses we incur in our lives.
In return, you get to invest in your future and play a role in defining the politics of tomorrow. We've seen this happen time after time on ActBlue, whether it's around marriage equality, healthcare, or the Bachmann Bump (tm).
In that context, $100,000,000 is not just about seats won and lost, it's a downpayment on a fundamental change in the nature and structure of Democratic politics.