DNC’s September fundraising raises eyebrows

DNC’S SEPTEMBER FUNDRAISING RAISES EYEBROWS…. As a rule, the major parties’ monthly fundraising totals are only interesting if they’re surprisingly bad or surprisingly good. For the Democratic National Committee, today’s filing belongs in the latter category.

Even as Democrats face a difficult October, there are signs that President Obama’s 2008 supporters are beginning to wake up.

The Democratic National Committee will report today that September was the committee’s best fundraising month of the election cycle, besting its previous high, in March, by a significant amount.

Brad Woodhouse, a spokesman for the DNC, said the organization plans to report raising more than $16 million last month; in March, the committee raised about $13.3 million.

Even better for the Democrats, most of that money came from the kind of contributors who fueled the Obama for President campaign in 2008: low-dollar donors who gave online or sent small checks in the mail.

The RNC has not yet indicated what its September haul was, so we have nothing to compare the DNC’s $16 million month to, but Michael Steele’s operation has struggled on this front last year, and the party waited until late on a Friday afternoon to publish its August totals. If the RNC’s September numbers are far short of the DNC’s filing, I suspect we’ll see another effort to downplay the Republican tally.

That said, just how good was the DNC’s month? Chris Cillizza described it as “startlingly strong,” and “the best month of cash collection for the committee in a midterm election since the passage of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law early last decade.”

In terms of the larger narrative, a report like this suggests the listless Democratic rank and file are getting back in the game — more than 80% of September’s total came from smaller online and direct-mail contributions. Indeed, major progressive donors who were prepared to sit out the cycle may very well see these reports, see a hint of momentum, and feel more inclined to pick up their checkbook.

Just as importantly, there’s an obvious practical benefit from having these millions on hand, ready to be invested in the midterms — all of the money will immediately go to key states and districts for advertising, GOTV efforts, and field operations.

The next question, though, is whether the Dems’ resources will be enough. Not only is the larger landscape still quite ugly for the majority, DNC funds may also be swamped by outside money.

Interest groups are spending five times as much on the 2010 congressional elections as they did on the last midterms, and they are more secretive than ever about where that money is coming from. […]

The bulk of the money is being spent by conservatives, who have swamped their Democratic-aligned competition by 7 to 1 in recent weeks.