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?


 

DISBURSEMENTS TO REVOLUTION MESSAGING BY BERNIE 2016

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