ObamaCare Ruling Fills Republican Coffers
A windfall for candidates up and down the ticket. "A crap ton of cash," says Donehue.
The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold ObamaCare Thursday offered an immediate financial boost to Republican candidates at all levels, GOP operatives and fundraisers told BuzzFeed.
While both the Romney and Obama campaign boasted that the decision had juiced their small contributions, the spillover to candidates for the Senate and House appears, by the early anecdotal evidence, to have been more pronounced for Republicans. Many Democrats, after all, continue to avoid talking about the unpopular legislation, while Republican candidates have now sharpened their mission: To repeal ObamaCare.
South Carolina-based Republican consultant Wesley Donehue said it was the best week of fundraising for his clients since Congressman Joe Wilson shouted "You Lie," at President Barack Obama in 2009.
"We raised a crap ton of cash for clients at all levels of government, from State Senate to U.S. Senate," he said.
Contributions to Republican candidates reached a “historic scale” in the hours after the decision, said Rob Saliterman, the account executive at Google who focuses on selling search ads to Republican campaigns.
“The healthcare decision was a great example of an offline event leading people to go online and search for more information, and then to take an immediate online action,” said Saliterman, a former aide to George W. Bush. “Search advertising empowered campaigns at all levels to instantly and efficiently convert grassroots energy into fundraising dollars at a historic scale.”
The core of that appeal is that the only way to stop legislation that some Republicans see as a dangerous expansion of government is through the ballot box. Mitt Romney’s message that “you need to replace Obama to repeal ObamaCare,” drove more than $5.5 million to the Romney campaign in online donations in the 36 hours after the ruling — a huge surge for a candidate who had struggled to connect with small donors.
That message may be particularly effective in the Senate campaigns whose outcome will determine the majority of that body. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell argued Sunday that because the individual mandate was considered by the Court to be a tax, that the upper chamber could use reconciliation to repeal the bill — an expedited consideration that is not subject to filibuster, meaning they’d only need 51 votes.
“The SCOTUS ruling was a huge fundraising gift for Republicans,” said Republican digital consultant Vincent Harris, whose clients include conservative Texas Senate candidate Ted Cruz. “I can't recall the last time I saw an issue so galvanize the conservative base online to generate donations.”
Harris said that Cruz, who is locked in a primary run-off with Texas Lieutenant Gov. David Dewhurst, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars since the decision.
“My clients at all levels of politics saw a dramatic increase and were able to raise money not just from normal means such as email but they raised big bucks via web ads as well, search and display ads on Google and Facebook,” he added.
“ObamaCare is bad for America but great for fundraising," said Donehue. "Some of it was organic, but we also invested heavily into online advertising, email lists and platforms such as rally.org. And with it being the end of the financial quarter, the decision couldn't have come at a better time.”
The scale of last week's fundraising for both parties will only be completely clear later this month when candidates release their campaign finance filings.
Democrats are also claiming fundraising successes, but are cagey about the size of their haul. Obama press secretary Ben LaBolt would only say Friday that “we've outraised the Romney campaign in that time period.”
“We saw a huge groundswell of donations this week at the committee and on all our campaigns,” said a spokesperson for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.