Republicans are investing more in their so-called pipeline organizations, which train and recruit candidates and staff, compared with Democrats. In fact, the gap between the two sides isn’t even close.
Comparing the five biggest organizations on the other side, a new study found that Republican organizations invested $120 million in the last presidential cycle compared with $26 million for Democrats.
Moreover, in 2020 alone, “a single Republican organization [Turning Point USA] spent ($38M) more on building the right’s talent pipeline than the top 10 Democratic organizations combined ($33M),” according to a report by Dalberg Advisors, a strategy and policy advisory firm. The report was commissioned by Arena, a Democratic training organization.
“The Dalberg research shows that Democrats have been woefully underinvesting in the recruitment, cultivation, and retention of political talent – from candidates to campaign staff and beyond,” according to Lauren Baer, managing partner of Arena.
“The good news is we can move the needle on this problem, and we can do it quickly. A mere 1-2% shift in Democratic political dollars towards pipeline work would close the funding gap with Republicans.”
The 1-2 percent figure is based on a $7 billion spend on state and federal elections by Democrats, according to the report. The study’s authors concluded: “Our research showed that the Democratic political talent pipeline ecosystem consists primarily of smaller organizations funded on short time horizons in contrast to large, long-term funded organizations on the Republican side. Democrats can better account for those deficiencies without simply replicating the Republican system.”
The report comes as fundraising — particularly down-ballot fundraising — remains a challenge for both sides of the aisle.
Acknowledging that reality, Baer added: “At a time when many Democratic donors are pulling back, the Dalberg research indicates that it is actually a time to lean in, because investments in the Democratic talent pipeline will pay off in terms of both short-term victories and long-term power building.”
In addition to the funding shortfall, the report also finds other faults with the left’s pipeline apparatus. For instance, it notes that “only 5 [percent] of the Democratic organizations profiled had an explicit focus on increasing low-income representation among candidates and staff.” And just 11 percent “appeared to offer services with an explicit focus on talent retention.”