INSIDER: A grassroots movement to help Democrats win back seats in Congress has already raised hundreds of thousands of dollars

Feb. 17, 2017, Leanna Garfield 

The Democratic party has suffered in recent elections. Hillary Clinton lost the presidential race in November, and the party has lost five Senate seats and 45 House seats since 2006 (the last elec­tion be­fore Obama’s first pres­id­en­tial cam­paign).

Meanwhile, the Republican Party is in control of the House and Senate, and occupies more than half of all state legislature seats.

Democratic fundraiser and entrepreneur Jonathan Zucker believes money could help build back the strength of the Democratic party. On January 19, the day before Trump’s inauguration, he launched an online donation platform called It Starts Today.

The platform asks subscribers to donate at least $4.68 per month — one cent for every congressional seat that will be up for election in 2018. Less than a month after its launch, It Starts Today has already raised approximately $250,000, Zucker tells Business Insider.

The grassroots effort currently has a few thousand subscribers, but Zucker hopes to grow that base to millions. He plans to use the monthly donations to form a political action committee, which will distribute funds evenly to every Democrat running for a congressional seat in the 2018 midterm election.

Zucker says the Democratic Party learned some hard lessons in 2016, especially how much every vote and every race matter. By giving every candidate the same amount of funding, Zucker hopes It Starts Today will boost the party as a whole. 

“The presidential race was decided by a handful of votes in just a few states, which proved to be valuable enough to swing the Electoral College to Trump despite a decisive victory by Clinton in the national popular vote,” Zucker says. “It’s no longer safe to assume that the right voters will turn out in the right places.”

An individual donation of one cent per race might not seem like much, but those pennies add up over time, he says. One million pennies — $10,000 — each month is nearly enough to fund a modern congressional campaign. Plus, Zucker says, if legislators know their campaigns are already funded, they could spend more time governing and less time fundraising.

Fundraising campaigns are not new, but It Starts Today takes a different approach by raising money for races rather than specific candidates (since many haven’t been determined yet for 2018). 

“We can no longer take good government for granted,” Zucker says. “We can’t just speak up. Everyone needs to get active.”

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