Buying the Revolution: $16M Paid for a Digital Presence by Bernie 2016

Revolution Messaging (RM) brought electoral politics into the digital age when it helped President Barack Obama win his first term back in 2008. Since then, it’s become the go-to vehicle for Democratic candidates, unions, progressive entities and umbrella organizations such as Move On. (See its client list here.) It entered the current presidential race the spring of 2015 when Bernard Sanders threw his hat in the ring.

But the revolution comes with a high price tag, and the Sanders’ campaign is feeling the pinch.

Its latest FEC Financial Summary shows just how outrageous campaign spending has become. In the nine months since starting his candidacy, Sanders has accumulated $96,311,423 in “Receipts” (contributions). However, running for the president’s job is costly – Bernie 2016 reports a whopping $81,649,471 in “Disbursements” (expenses).

There are the usual items: staff salaries, rent, airfare, hotel rooms,sound equipment, credit cards, catering, food (lots of pizza), office supplies, ad buys, software, computers, train rides, port-a-potties, internet service, security and at least one limousine rental. You name it, you’ll likely find it. After all, it take a village to run a campaign.

Revolution Messaging consumed twenty percent of those disbursements (see table below). Its services through the end of January have cost Bernie Sanders over $16 million. The biggest chunk came during that month and totaled nearly $7 million.

What is all that money buying? In simplest terms, the answer is a digital presence. Revolution Messaging is pricey but it offers everything from the all-important fundraising (online and off) to technical know-how to fast response applications. It bills itself as a full service digital campaign workhorse and details its services as such:

Revolution Messaging develops fully responsive custom technology. These new technologies provide our clients with tools to message thousands of supporters instantly and to more effectively engage them. Our development team designs and builds websites, landing pages and custom applications that work on all mobile phones, tablets and desktops. (SOURCE: Revolution Messaging)

With the preponderance of Bernie supporters clogging social media, the company is obviously effective in creating visibility. One hopes they are not also skilled in the development of troll accounts.

The Sanders campaign is paying big bucks for this internet campaign machine yet there is one thing it cannot do – scratch a box on a ballot. The next set of primaries is just around the corner. Will Revolution Messaging be worth its millions to the Sanders campaign?



RM Expenses
Source: FEC – Bernard Sanders Financial Summary (1 April 2015 – 31 Jan 2016)


  1. I am a 40-something white gay male in Iowa and I support Hillary. I haven’t declared it on my Twitter bio BECAUSE of the attacks I have seen from friends. And the attacks are on BOTH sides but some Bernie supporters who have been long-term friends have gone a little over what I would consider acceptable in their attacks, and then add to the mix the Republicans masquerading as Bernie supporters – just another chance for them to bash Hillary. I’ve called these FAKE BERNS out but don’t always get real Bernie supporters to try and help silence their lies!
    I still have hope that we can come together as a party and VOTE BLUE! I said I’d support Bernie if he won, and after tonight, I don’t see how, at least mathematically, that is possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve experienced the same from supporters of Both candidates, and I’ve been accused of being a rightwinger and a paid troll by supporters of Both candidates, when I am a left of center Democrat and I’ve been so for more than 35 years. The paranoia and ugliness has grown worse over the last few weeks, and both sides are equally vitriolic. No counter-opinions, critical thought, or debate of serious concerns about either candidate is being tolerated for even a second by inflamed supporters of Both candidates. It isn’t wise of fair to either candidate to hold the behaviors of extreme supporters against them. They can’t control people they don’t even know anymore than they can control the same sort of behaviors by YouTube miscreants. One thing is for sure, making assumptions about people on the internet merely because they have a concern or criticism one doesn’t like is misguided. Given all the names I’ve been called and accusations against me that are the opposite of reality, I’m proof of that fact.


    1. You say:

      One thing is for sure, making assumptions about people on the internet merely because they have a concern or criticism one doesn’t like is misguided. Given all the names I’ve been called and accusations against me that are the opposite of reality, I’m proof of that fact.

      There is no assumption involved when Hillary Clinton supporters are attacked en masse by those claiming to be supporters of Bernie Sanders. This is exactly what has occurred since Day One. I’ve been called every vile word imaginable and even told to go kill myself, simply for tweeting or posting on Facebook. I am not alone in this. These are paid troll account with low follower accounts, newly created since Sanders announced. Revolution Messaging handles ALL of Sanders online activity in this regard and it is legitimate to point to Sanders as the responsible party. To think otherwise is not realistic. BTW I have a single list of over 3000 Bernie trolls – this is ONE list of probably thousands. This is a huge part of the Sanders campaign strategy. He does not get a free pass for this continuous abuse of Hillary Clinton supporters. This is cyber bullying. He is responsible.


  3. Very enlightening. Thank you so much! Im forwarding to my groups. Grace I would love to discuss my own research with you into similar tactics. My twitter handle is at meanprogress my website is meanprogressive dot com. The article is called Welcome To The Left.


  4. I, and others I know, have been viciously attacked by Bernie’s birdies. They are the nastiest, crudest, most sexist, misogynistic bunch of adolescents & youthful males I have seen since I taught them in HS & in college. But these are the worst in their ability to use really foul language & despicable references to body parts, etc. It has turned me and the others I know who’ve been attacked, completely against the old man Bern. He set this awful tone & condones it & fuels it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have your experiences too, as a college professor and online user who has been insulted by these juvenile minds. And, I agree: As Above, So Below. Bernie Sanders is complicit. He has done nothing to control this venomous assault, and he has to be aware of it.

      Liked by 1 person

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