The nomination battle isn’t over yet, regardless of the odds, but Democratic strategists are already thinking about picking up something of great value from the Sanders campaign–the email list. Politico reports:
The post-campaign fate of Sanders’ list — his 2016 crown jewel, and the backbone of the Vermont senator’s online fundraising juggernaut — is the topic of frequent conversation among operatives working with the Democratic Party committees, down-ballot candidates and a variety of liberal interest groups. Some have already begun strategizing about how to access the list through informal conversations with people close to the Sanders campaign.
For those fighting for the issues Sanders has made the centerpiece of his campaign — like campaign finance reform, the environment and economic justice — his list of several million fervent activists willing to volunteer and donate money, often repeatedly, is regarded as something of an electoral gold mine…
Sanders’ staffers won’t comment on the exact size of the list, but his campaign has said it has 2.2 million donors, and the New York-based firm eDataSource estimates there are 5.2 million email addresses on it. The very fact that Sanders’ online fundraising prowess has become a focal point means that the question of what to do with the list is all the more complex.
“There’s this view among the Washington consultant class that these members are an ATM and you throw some words at them and they’ll give you money no matter what,” said Neil Sroka, a former Obama 2008 campaign aide now working as communications director of Democracy For America, which has endorsed Sanders. “Everyone in the Democratic Party is going to want Bernie Sanders’ seal of approval and a chance to share their message with the people on his email list.”
The Democrats’ eagerness to get their hands on Sanders’ list took off after he sent emails for congressional hopefuls Lucy Flores of Nevada, Zephyr Teachout of New York, and Pramila Jayapal of Washington. While it’s still unclear exactly how much of a Bernie bump they all got, Las Vegas ABC affiliate KTNV reported earlier this week that Flores had already raised $428,000 in mostly small-dollar contributions. Sensitive to any implication that Sanders may lose the nomination to Clinton, the campaign has yet to offer any hints of its plans for the list.
I’m sure that the Democratic Party would like to have this list, but they should not be so certain that those on the list will be willing to continue to contribute money should Clinton win the nomination. There are many Sanders supporters who are coming out of this campaign questioning whether the Democratic Party supports their views. As Sanders recently warned, Clinton and the Democratic Party cannot just assume that his supporters will automatically support them.
I suspect that Sanders will wind up backing the party in the end, but that is far from certain. What we do know is that, regardless of whether any of the Republican candidates or Hillary Clinton wins the election, we will have a president with views and agenda far different from that of Sanders supporters.
Should a Republican get elected, we will probably see Sanders and Clinton supporters united in opposing their agenda. If Clinton is elected, her agenda might not be all that different from that of the Republicans on many issues, and she is to the right of them in areas such as interventionism. The difference is that if Clinton is president, rather than having the Democrats united in opposing her more conservative views, many Democrats will be defending her, as they have done during the campaign.
If Clinton is elected, a top priority will be in establishing an opposition to her from the left, to oppose the corrupting role of money in politics, to oppose her neoconservative foreign policy, and to oppose restrictions on civil liberties which she has been far too comfortable with. I do hope that, rather than falling in the hands of the Democratic establishment, Sanders’ email list is used to help organize such an opposition.