News Bites: Hillary Clinton relied on old money. New money won this primary season.
Hillary Clinton hasn’t officially bowed out of the presidential race, but yesterday was still a sad evening in our household. The Hillary sign came down in our front yard. I figured the neighbors might smirk if we immediately erected an Obama sign, but I wasn’t quite prepared to make the street smile with a new placard. We’ll eventually get his name out there.
In the meantime, I’m reflecting on what went wrong and early on in the race, a lot of it had to do with money. A month ago, TIME magazine indicated she had made five crucial mistakes. One happened to be that she relied on old money:
For a decade or more, the Clintons set the standard for political fund raising in the Democratic Party, and nearly all Bill’s old donors had re-upped for Hillary’s bid… But something had happened to fund raising that Team Clinton didn’t fully grasp: the Internet.
Though Clinton’s totals from working the shrimp-cocktail circuit remained impressive by every historic measure, her donors were typically big-check writers. And once they had ponied up the $2,300 allowed by law, they were forbidden to give more. The once bottomless Clinton well was drying up.
Obama relied instead on a different model: the 800,000-plus people who had signed up on his website and could continue sending money his way $5, $10 and $50 at a time. (The campaign has raised more than $100 million online, better than half its total.) Meanwhile, the Clintons were forced to tap the $100 million — plus the fortune they had acquired since he left the White House — first for $5 million in January to make it to Super Tuesday and then $6.4 million to get her through Indiana and North Carolina.
Andrew Tobias echoed the same sentiment. As treasurer of the Democratic National Committee, he’s the DNC’s highest-ranking openly gay official, I asked him if he saw money doing anything good when it came to the political process. His answer:
Sure. Politics is tacky and all the awful things it is — but you can’t have democracy without politics, and politics requires money. That said, it’s wonderful how the balance of power is shifting away from the $500,000 and $5 million contributions (now illegal) — and even the $28,500 contributions (the current annual max to a federal political party like the DNC) — to the potential for millions of $10 and $25 and $100 and $250 contributions over the Internet.
Until Hillary, I had never given money to a political candidate. So a couple of months ago Jeanine and I gave individually over the Internet after being prompted by a friend forwarding the pleas from HillaryClinton.com. After we gave, the real benefit was that we received daily emails from (wink, wink) Hillary. I actually looked forward to this communication because it was a message direct from her campaign that hadn’t been filtered and recounted by the pundits. For my 100 bucks I felt like I was in the know. It made me feel a part of something.
Obviously, Barack Obama figured this out sooner than the Hillary camp. I have to give his people credit. “Change we can believe in.” He did it with a little more than pocket change. $5, $10 and 20 bucks a pop.
So what about you? Did you give? If so, how much? And what prompted you to click the “Contribute” button?