Dems Probably Won't Take The House, So Why Are They Raising So Much? The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is millions of dollars ahead of the Republicans in fundraising, especially among the small-donor faithful.

Dems Probably Won't Take The House, So Why Are They Raising So Much?

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now to an oddity of the upcoming midterm elections. House Republicans are generally expected to keep their majority in the Chamber, but it's the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that is raking in the cash and they're doing it online, as we hear from NPR's Peter Overby.

PETER OVERBY, BYLINE: Most of the online money comes in small contributions; $200 or less. In that category, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has left the National Republican Congressional Committee in the dust - $62 million so far for the D triple C - just one third as much, 20 million, for the NRCC.

New York Congressman Steve Israel is chairman of the Democratic Committee.

CONGRESSMAN STEVE ISRAEL: Well, the Republicans may have the Koch brothers and they may have Karl Rove and the super PACs, but we have got a grassroots that is absolutely fired up.

OVERBY: Online fundraising is a blend of technology and emotion.

TARYN ROSENKRANZ: The best way to sort of summarize it is that they found ways for folks to get involved that weren't just fundraising.

OVERBY: Taryn Rosenkranz is a digital strategies consultant for the D triple C, among others. She used to be the committee's digital finance chief.

ROSENKRANZ: People will do things that are easy for them, right, but that they care about and you've made an easy way for them to do it.

OVERBY: So for example, online petitions and making one-click contributions. In this grim season for Democrats, Rosenkranz says it's good to keep the pitch narrow.

ROSENKRANZ: It does become about helping this one person against this extremist, or helping this one incumbent who has done such great work for us we want to see continue on.

OVERBY: But sometimes the big picture works, too. The D triple C's best day online this cycle was July 28. As House Republicans launched their lawsuit against President Obama, the committee raised a million dollars. And over at the NRCC, press secretary Daniel Scarpinato says one of President Obama's stock lines paid off in a big way.

DANIEL SCARPINATO: That created a lot of urgency among our donors when they heard the president out there saying that he wanted Nancy Pelosi back as Speaker of the House.

OVERBY: Scarpinato says the committee pumped millions of dollars into digital this cycle. Online fundraising is up 300 percent from 2012.

CONSULTANT KURT LUIDHARDT: So while we are still not where the Democrats are, we are way ahead of where Republicans have ever been in the past.

OVERBY: Still, conservative consultant Kurt Luidhardt says the NRCC has to keep pushing if it wants to reap serious benefits online. He says the committee is catching on.

LUIDHARDT: There's a greater respect for the importance of investing in digital; not just for fundraising but also for voter contact.

OVERBY: Of course, the NRCC itself has a natural bias toward short-term thinking.

LUIDHARDT: Committees are more interested in what's happening in November and getting their members re-elected and getting new members elected.

OVERBY: Because nobody wants to explain to losing candidates why the party committee spent money on long-range planning instead of late-October advertising.

Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington.

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