WinRed Sets Fundraising Record

GOP fundraising platform boosted Garcia's Calif. upset

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May 15, 2020

WinRed, the GOP's digital fundraising platform, raised nearly $60 million in April, funneling more than $500,000 toward a Republican victory in a California congressional race widely seen as a bellwether for November.

WinRed raised $59.8 million from more than 1.6 million small donations in April, the largest monthly haul in its 10-month history, according to Axios. Those efforts helped steer $503,087 to former Navy fighter pilot Mike Garcia, who became the first California Republican to flip a seat from the Democrats since 1998. Garcia won the race to replace disgraced "throuple" congresswoman Katie Hill by double digits, despite the fact that the suburban district has 30,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans.

Republicans launched WinRed in June 2019 to compete with ActBlue, an online fundraising platform that has funneled millions of small donations to Democratic campaigns since 2004. WinRed has since played a major role in fundraising, particularly in special elections. In September 2019, it raised more than $300,000 for Rep. Dan Bishop's successful campaign in a closely watched North Carolina special election. WinRed fundraising figures have continued to grow since then, helping to close the gap between Republican and Democratic grassroots fundraising efforts.

An effort to unite the party behind the platform remains a work in progress. Republicans who oppose the president, including his primary rivals Joe Walsh and Bill Weld and upstart candidate Justin Amash, continue to use a different platform called Anedot, as does the anti-Trump Lincoln project.

Donations made through WinRed played a major role in Tuesday's special election win, with money that flowed through the platform contributing to Garcia's victory. Well-known Republicans with a proven donor base—such as Reps. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) and Dan Crenshaw (Texas)—used the platform to raise $245,498 for Garcia, or nearly half of the WinRed donations to the California Republican.

By using WinRed, Garcia was able to tap into a national network of grassroots donors, a crucial source of out-of-state funding for a Republican candidate in deep-blue California. Nearly 16,000 donors contributed $28.93 on average to Garcia's campaign. The majority of the money raised by WinRed for Garcia's campaign came in the closing days of the race, according to Federal Election Commission data. The most recent campaign disclosure report showed that Garcia collected $163,796 in donations made through WinRed before April 22. That means that about $340,000—accounting for more than two in three WinRed donations in the race—was raised between April 22 and the May 12 election. The influx of cash came as Democratic heavyweights, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, publicly campaigned against Garcia.

WinRed was able to quickly grow in prominence because the platform is backed by both the Republican National Committee and President Donald Trump, but its reach has extended beyond the federal level in recent months. The group also boosted state-level candidates in April by partnering with the Republican State Leadership Committee, which enjoyed its most lucrative fundraising totals of the 2020 election cycle, raising more than $5.5 million in April.