The way campaigns raise money, especially on the left, is leaving a lot of candidates questioning the wisdom of traditional call time, also known as dialing for dollars.
Some progressives believe that call time is a dark art, a time for candidates to schmooze long-distance with lobbyists and interests that rarely align with the core beliefs of most Democrats.
If you liked a tweet Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) recently sent boasting of not having dialed a single time "this year," that's likely your view.
The problem is that, in 2019, not everyone has a devoted base of supporters on platforms like Twitter who can chip in $5, $10, and $27 every time they’re attacked by right-wing media — or even leaders of their own party.
In fact, most likely this cycle 99 percent of Democrats running for Congress are going to have to spend a ridiculous amount of time dialing for dollars over the next 16 months as they work to hold the House majority. This is the unfortunate reality of our current campaign finance system.
Democratic fundraising consultants and finance directors don’t make candidates do call time because we are sadistic slave-drivers, although some candidates might think that’s the case. We do it because it’s the most efficient and logical way to connect with donors coast to coast.
The fundraising market is as crowded as ever, with 25 Democrats running for president, a Senate majority that’s within reach, a new House majority to protect, and hundreds of new progressive candidates running for office all across the country.
Sure, presidential candidates can gain thousands of new donors after a strong performance in a nationally televised debate. Not everyone’s debate is nationally televised. Candidates for Congress, for instance, are going to have to look for funding through traditional avenues.
Donors are inundated with dozens of emails a day proclaiming all hope is lost, or telling you to kiss everything goodbye. Without a big name or viral video attached to an email, most of these messages will be lost in the shuffle simple due to overwhelming volume.
Often, the only way a candidate will stand out to a donor is to call personally to introduce themselves, share their story and ask directly for support. Donors should get that personal outreach from candidates. Reaching out directly is the only way to truly resonate with many donors short of that viral moment every candidate covets.
Let us make a prediction: like it or not, dialing for dollars will remain the most important fundraising tool candidates for Congress can utilize in what will undoubtedly be the most expensive campaign cycle in history.
Nick Daggers & JR Patton are founding partners of the 1833 Group, a Chicago-based Democratic political consulting firm focusing on fundraising.