After a delay of 15 years, Republicans finally launched the site that’s supposed to level the playing field with progressive fundraising powerhouse ActBlue, only … it’s really just a landing page. There’s no directory of candidates, no ability to sign up for an account, no way to create a fundraising page, nothing. Just an animated GIF and a contact form. As of Monday at noon, its Twitter account hadn’t even tweeted.
WinRed (Donald Trump named it himself and tweeted a link to its lone functional page) has a long, long way to go to catch up with the $3.5 billion-with-a-b raised through ActBlue since its founding in June of 2004, and there’s good reason to doubt it ever will. For starters, there’s the grifty fee structure: While ActBlue charges a flat 3.95% per contribution, WinRed takes a 3.8% cut plus 30 cents per transaction.
That might not sound like a big difference, but it’s huge. On a $5 contribution, ActBlue will net 20 cents. WinRed, however, will take 49 cents, which in percentage terms is a giant 9.8%. What’s more, on a contribution page that lists multiple campaigns, it sounds like WinRed will get 30 cents per donation. (From the site itself: “There is a 3.8% + 30 cents per transaction fee with each donation made.”) In other words, if you split $25 across five candidates, that’s a cool $2.45 for WinRed. ActBlue would take less than a buck.
These high fees will make Republican campaigns want to look elsewhere, but the real obstacle for WinRed isn’t uptake from the consulting class. Republicans have long imagined that what they have is a technology problem—“Build a better website and we can take on ActBlue”—but what they really have is a culture problem.
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