Robert Bluey

The Democrats’ smashing success in first-quarter fundraising doubtless dampened the morale of Republican political strategists hoping for a 2008 comeback. But the number that should cause the most alarm in GOP circles is the more than $15 million that Democrat candidates brought in via the Internet.

Republicans weren’t even close to matching the Democrats’ online donations. Just how far off the pace are they? So far that the top three GOP presidential campaigns declined to release their online fundraising totals when I asked.

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, given the GOP’s pathetic attempt to raise money online in years past. While Democratic campaigns were building a Web-based fundraising infrastructure in 2004, Republicans kept churning out reliable direct-mail pieces.

Prior to 2006, it was hard to argue with the success. Republicans were raising cash and winning elections, creating little incentive to change.

These days, however, Democrats are bustling with optimism -- in part because they know it will take years for Republicans to catch up to them in online fundraising.

In just a few years, the dominant liberal fundraising site ActBlue has collected nearly $21.5 million, including about $4 million since last November. No conservative site comes close. Consider ABC PAC. It raised a little more than $300,000 last year, much of it coming through its Rightroots project geared toward conservative bloggers, including Townhall’s Mary Katharine Ham. So far in 2007, ABC PAC’s slate of 2008 presidential candidates -- all of them Republican -- has raked in a whopping $385.00. American.

I asked Matt Stoller, a liberal blogger at MyDD, why the left has enjoyed so much success raising money online. “Because we hate the direction of the country and desperately want a new president,” he said, “and the Internet is the only channel open to us to make that happen.”

Stoller said the left’s infrastructure was created out of necessity. The right, on the other hand, was content with the status quo. As liberals worked on using the Web to raise money, conservatives regarded it mainly as a means of offering punditry.

Robert Bluey

Robert B. Bluey is director of the Center for Media & Public Policy at The Heritage Foundation and maintains a blog at