Guess what: people tend to give money when they’re all riled up. This week’s example? When Republican Rep. Allen West blew up via email at Democratic colleague Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Tuesday, saying, “You are the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the US House of Representatives… you are not a Lady,” Democratic fundraisers must have broken records sprinting to their computers to crank out emails. Both the DCCC and Emily’s List zapped out messages to their lists on Wednesday, for example, hoping to convert activist anger into money in the bank.
Yes, those fleeting moments can be fundraising gold — remember that the biggest single day of political giving came after Sarah Palin insulted community organizers in her speech to the Republican convention in 2008, when tens of thousands of Democrats responded by flooding Barack Obama’s coffers with cash. Of course, this calculation can cut both ways, since West has also sent out a plea for donations to HIS supporters.
In any case, not all political fundraising attempts to capitalize on a moment’s emotion, but it still never hurts to have an opponent who angers your base. Case in point: Rick Santorum is asking for money to fight sex columnist Dan Savage’s successful (and hilarious) campaign to, um, rebrand the former Senator by asking bloggers to link his name to descriptions of, well, why don’t you just Google it yourself. Good luck, Rick! You’ll need it — The People have spoken.
Finally, another example of capitalizing on the moment — remember that Epolitics.com post on Newt Gingrich’s veeeeery expensive website? Because I was early out of the gate on that one, and also carefully incorporated the words “Newt Gingrich,” “website” and “$800,000” in the article title, Google has rewarded me with many hundreds of new visitors over the past couple of days, at least doubling the site’s traffic over that period. We’ll see how many of them stick around and say howdy (I doubt many of the random curious are digital politics enthusiasts), but it’s a good example of why a fast response to a breaking story can make a huge difference. In this case, it made the Epolitics.com article the top Google search result on the issue, which does not hurt one bit.
Contributing to a campaign is, for small donors, an emotional decision. The large donors, the bundlers, etc are making contributions for access while small donors are giving for some emotional reason whether that’s believing in the cause hating the other person, whatever. Because of that motivation, these situations are great for raising money.