According to a new report from The Hill, donors spent some $550 million propping up Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and now, following her stunning loss to President-elect Donald Trump, they feel like they might as well have set their money on fire.
The frustrations from the Election Day defeat are causing a lot of problems for the Democratic National Committee, which is already working to rebuild its dilapidated image and gear up for the 2018 midterm elections. In addition, many progressive activists are worried about money as they prepare to go to war with Trump, who has vowed to undo much of President Barack Obama's legacy.
"They’re tired," one DNC official told The Hill regarding top Democratic donors. "They’re upset about the election, and there was significant trauma surrounding the Russians. They’re upset and they’re tired."
On top of the defeat, donors are angry over the WikiLeaks revelations (which included leaks of their information) and the fact that the DNC will be without any sort of leadership until more than a month into the Trump administration:
Many liberal donors also viewed the election as an opportunity to cement Obama’s legacy.
Instead, Democrats find themselves in the throes of a full-scale and expensive rebuilding project punctuated by a rudderless DNC that won’t elect a new leader until more than a month after Trump is sworn into office.
Investor Marc Nathanson, who spent big in 2016, says he has no interest in participating in the party’s rebuilding efforts.
Nathanson, who was one of Clinton’s top donors and fundraisers in 2016, told The Hill he’d continue to give money and support to Democratic candidates in gubernatorial and mayoral races in his home state of California. But beyond that, the frustration over the party’s 2016 debacle will keep him on the sidelines.
"The feeling I get from big donors out here in California is that they’re not only extremely disappointed, but they’re shell-shocked," Nathanson said. "So to turn around and say, 'Now it’s time to rebuild the national party and the DNC,' I just don’t see it."
But there are some progressives who are optimistic, hoping to paint Trump as the conservative monster who must be defeated — a narrative that has historically led donors to open their wallets. And David Brock, the progressive darling known for his scathing opposition research at Media Matters for America, is already readying his arsenal to go to war with the incoming commander in chief:
Brock has invited 225 current donors and 175 prospective donors to a meeting in Palm Beach, Fla., over Trump’s inaugural weekend, as he seeks to fund a web of liberal groups he hopes will rival the Koch brothers’ network of influence on the right.
Brock is looking to super-charge his group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, in hopes it will rival the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch.
Judicial Watch had a huge impact on the 2016 elections, using judicial and regulatory channels to maintain a steady flow of email-related problems that bedeviled Clinton.
Brock is also looking into expanding the presence of his liberal internet media outlet, Shareblue, which he hopes will be the progressive response to "the Breitbart phenomenon," a hat tip to the Trump-friendly website that critics said acted as an arm of the campaign for much of the election.
And billionaire George Soros, a longtime advocate of progressivism, hosted a gathering of liberal donors in Washington, D.C., just after Election Day where they began plotting a plan to "take back power" from Trump. Soros, for his part, donated $13 million to defeat the president-elect.