In 2008, more than 550,000 gave more than $200 to Barack Obama, entering their names in the longest list of individual donors ever seen in American politics.
That list was a snapshot of the hope Obama inspired in a cross sections of liberals, young professionals, African-Americans, and Democrats who saw in him a generational and historic moment. But now, as Obama struggles to keep pace with his 2008 fundraising clip, that list offers a cross-section of Democratic disappointment and alienation. According to a BuzzFeed analysis of campaign finance data, 88% of the people who gave $200 or more in 2008 — 537,806 people — have not yet given that sum this year. And this drop-off isn’t simply an artifact of timing. A full 87% of the people who gave $200 — the sum that triggers an itemized report to the Federal Elections Commission — through April of 2008, 182,078 people, had not contributed by the end of last month.
I suspect gay money will come in, and it will be deserved. The President came through for the gay community, after much cajoling – but in the end he did, and that’s the bargain you make when you vote for someone: If they come through sufficiently on their promises, you support them for re-election.
Now, we didn’t get everything we wanted, but we got some (enough) big ticket items nonetheless – items that will make a serious difference. To wit: DADT repeal, refusing to defend DOMA in court, and coming out in favor of marriage equality for gay couples (and passage of the Hate Crimes law was important, and would get the President more credit if his Justice Department used it more).
The problem for the President is that a lot of other communities feels that the President has sufficiently come through for them.
I’d argue that the gay community’s relationship with the President is a template for presidential relations with other communities in at least two ways. 1) It shows other communities that they need to kick butt if they want their promises kept. And 2) it shows the President that he needs to actively woo voters, and voting blocs, if he wants their continued support.
I’ve written before about the administration’s “failure to woo.” And as we predicted, it was likely to come home to roost around the election.