Politics

WinRed Views First House Election as Success Story

GOP fundraising engine 'exceeded expectations' raising money in North Carolina special election

Dan Bishop
Dan Bishop / Getty Images
Republican fundraising platform WinRed believes it passed its first big test in Tuesday's closely watched North Carolina special election, where Republican Dan Bishop, whose campaign used the platform, came out victorious.

"I think it exceeded expectations," said WinRed president Gerrit Lansing in an interview this week. "This is the first big example of WinRed's ability to shine in the national spotlight on a local race. This is what ActBlue has been doing for 15 years, sort of nationalize these races with national money."

WinRed was launched in June as the Republican counterpart to ActBlue, a similar platform used widely by Democratic candidates across the country to efficiently collect donations from small donors. 

Bishop, the first congressional candidate to use WinRed, raised more than $300,000 through the platform, roughly 15 percent of the $1.9 million that his victorious campaign raised in total.

WinRed says it collected 92 percent of its donations from outside the state, and "the vast majority" of the money came from small donors. It also says it collected donations to Bishop from all 50 states, and that a quarter of the donations came from donors who already had their credit card information saved on the platform.

"These are incredible numbers," Lansing said. "I think Democrats should be on notice that we've got the ability to nationalize these races now, and it's going to be a big new weapon for us that we can match the Democrats with."

Lansing conceded that the Democrats currently have a stronger online fundraising machine, but he remained optimistic that Republicans will be able to catch up to Democrats in a matter of months.

"They've had 15 years to scale and we're gonna try to catch up in 15 months, but they are going to outraise us every month," Lansing said. "That's the reality we have to deal with, and try to catch up as fast as possible."

Republican campaigns have been quick to adopt WinRed since its debut two months ago. Lansing said nearly 600 organizations have signed up as of now, including the reelection campaigns for President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"I really didn't think we would have many people sign up until the end of the year," he said. "These campaigns are busy, they got a lot going on. I think it's a sign of how desperate people are for an answer to ActBlue."

Lansing said that President Trump has helped kickstart WinRed. Donors to Trump on WinRed help buoy less well-known candidates such as Bishop.

"It really comes down to Trump," Lansing said. "He's the greatest online fundraiser in the history of politics, including Bernie, Obama, anyone."

"Having him at the top of the ticket and the ability to conduit it down to state races and save millions of credit cards is a big deal that is going to help us fast forward," he said.  "I can't say when we are going to catch up to ActBlue, but we are going to take a bite out of them this cycle."