DNC Chair Tom Perez, who was elected without adequate political or fundraising experience, promised change, reform, and “to get things done” as leader of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Instead, he has driven the organization further into the ground.
Politico reported on October 22, “Many donors are refusing to write checks. And on-the-ground operatives worry they won’t have the resources to build the infrastructure they need to compete effectively in next year’s midterms and in the run-up to 2020.” The DNC’s financial situation is, indeed, dire. It reportedly only has $7 million in cash in hand and nearly half of that in debt. In contrast, the Republican National Committee (RNC) has $44 million in cash on hand. In the latest quarter, the DNC only raised $4 million, while the RNC raised $10 million. This trend of being vastly outpaced by Republicans has been pervasive since Perez assumed his position in February 2017. So far this year the DNC has raised $51 million, less than half of the RNC’s $104 million.
During this tenure, Perez has managed to alienate wealthy donors, who don’t trust that the party can recoup its drastic losses, and progressive grassroots activists, who have been ostracized by party leadership. The RNC has outpacedthe DNC in fundraising from both small and large donors, a harrowing sign that Democrats are in trouble for 2018. McClatchy DC reported on October 18, “The Republican National Committee raised more than $100 million in the first nine months of 2017, marking the first time it has raised that much, that fast, in a non-presidential election year.” The DNC is likely panicking over the Republicans’ record breaking numbers.
Trump’s unpopularity has galvanized activists and candidates across the country, but the DNC has proved incapable of tapping into this energy and enthusiasm. Several DNC members have blamed the organization’s low fundraising numbers on an influx of liberal and progressive organizations. To the contrary, it seems donors would rather put their donations to good use through grassroots activism than waste money on an organization that has made little effort to reconnect with the voters the party has repelled, offended, or ignored over the past decade.
Under Obama, the Democratic Party lost the most seats in Congress under a sitting president in modern history, with 63 seats in the House lost in the 2010 midterm elections. The party is assuming that its path to recovery is a given considering Trump’s low approval rating, but voters’ discontent doesn’t translate into electoral success for Democrats unless the party mobilizes its voters. Tom Perez should be embracing every asset of the Democratic Party, but instead he reaffirms the party’s divisions.
Michael Sainato’s writing has appeared in the Guardian, Miami Herald, Baltimore Sun, Huffington Post, LiveScience, Buffalo News, the Plain Dealer, The Hill, Gainesville Sun, Tallahassee Democrat, Knoxville News Sentinel, and the Troy Record. He lives in Gainesville, FL. Follow him on twitter: @msainat1