In this week’s Political Edge, we recap a new report that paints a grim picture for Democrats in rural America and take a look at new data on where 2020 Democrats are getting most of their grassroots support.
Decline In Rural Support Puts Democratic Future In Peril
A recent analysis by the group “One Country Project” (OCP) paints a grim picture for Democrats’ future electoral successes if they don’t begin to mitigate losses in rural America.
In the 2018 midterm, Democratic senators from rural, red states became an endangered breed. Three Democratic senators from deep-red states — Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota — lost their seats. Two others – Jon Tester of Montana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia – managed to squeak out wins, but they saw their support shrivel up in many parts of their states.
Despite the fact that Republicans are defending 22 seats compared to the Democrats’ 12, OCP points out that the GOP has a built-in advantage because many of the states up in 2020 are in rural areas. According to OCP, Republicans have a 40-seat, built-in base in the Senate because they connect better with rural America. Their analysis shows that of the 22 Republican seats, only four are vulnerable: North Carolina, Arizona, Colorado, and Maine.
Because Alabama will likely flip back to Republican hands, the group notes that it will be very difficult for Democrats to take back the Senate. Former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a founding board member of OCP who lost her rural North Dakota seat last year, has a pointed message for Democrats: “If nothing changes, Democrats will never have more than a hope and a prayer of eking out a slim Senate majority. Voters are not connecting with Democrats and we risk being stuck in the minority for decades to come if we do not re-open the dialogue with Americans who live in the countryside and small towns across every region.”
Where Are 2020 Democrats Getting Their Money?
Small-dollar donations have dominated conversations about 2020 candidates. Having a vast grassroots fundraising operation is how candidates are demonstrating their support network, and in the primary, having a lower average donation is a badge of honor for many candidates. Last week, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal published analyses of ActBlue donations to 2020 Democrats, looking at who the grassroots supporters are, where they live, and when they gave.
According to the Journal’s study, “people who have given $200 or less in total to a specific presidential candidate through ActBlue accounted for at least $90 million through June 30, according to the Journal’s analysis of more than 14 million contributions. That dollar amount is nearly 85% of all small-dollar money brought in by the Democratic presidential campaigns in the first half of 2019 and more than 43% of all money given to the candidates over the same time, according to federal filings.”
Below are some findings on each of the top candidates:
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT): Sanders raised the most money from small donors in the first half of the year, collecting $30 million from 746,000 contributors at an average $46. In 44 states, Sanders had more individual donors than any other candidate. The six states where he was not No. 1 are the home states of other candidates: Delaware (where Biden ranked first), Indiana (Buttigieg), Massachusetts (Warren), Minnesota (Klobuchar), Montana (Bullock) and Texas (O’Rourke).
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA): Warren brought in the second highest small-dollar haul, raising $17 million from 410,000 individuals. The average donation to Warren’s campaign was $53.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN): Buttigieg came in third in small-dollar contributions, raising $15 million from 376,000 donors with an average donation of $76. He beat the field in fundraising in Indiana and also had roughly 1,300 donors in a single ZIP code in Washington, D.C., that includes Adams Morgan and much of the Dupont Circle neighborhood.
Former Vice President Joe Biden (D-DE): Biden is doing well in Delaware and northeastern Pennsylvania, as well as in many places across the Southeast. According to the analysis, the average donation received by his campaign is $81.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA): Although she did not receive the most in California, Harris put up formidable numbers in her home state. The analysis shows that Harris received an average donation of $81.