Attack of the green bundlers

Everyone knows that in politics, money talks. Now the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), one of the country’s biggest environmental groups, is trying to help greens make their dollars shout a little louder: They’ve set up a website - “Give Green” - where environmentalists can make donations, which will then be divvied up between the political candidates deemed worthy of the LCV’s endorsement.

The campaign is an attempt to tap into two of the hottest memes in modern politics: online fundraising and donation bundling. That’s a pretty smart idea; online fundraising has certainly been serving Barack Obama well, and bundling - the practice of gathering individual donations into a single heap before passing them on to a candidate - is firmly on the rise, accounting for more than a quarter of the donations made so far in this year’s election cycle.

What’s more, there’s evidence that by channeling donations through the LCV, greens will be able to get significantly more political bang for their buck. One recent study found that campaign donations made by environmental groups had about 300 times more impact on election results, dollar for dollar, than individual donations, perhaps because they helped underscore the groups’ candidate endorsements.

That makes Give Green an intriguing idea; still, it’s not without its problems. The LCV is modeling its green bundling operation on successful campaigns by groups like EMILY’s List, the women’s advocacy group that helped elect many of America’s most prominent female lawmakers. But EMILY’s List had one big advantage over the LCV: It was unabashedly partisan, and channeled its donations exclusively to Democratic candidates.

By contrast, the LCV is ostensibly party-neutral; while most LCV endorsements go to Democrats, it’s also willing to throw its weight - and its supporters’ cash - behind right-thinking Republicans. That means that donations made through Give Green will help Democrats like would-be senators Mark Udall of Colorado and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, but also incumbent Republicans like Reps. Christopher Shays of Connecticut and Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey.

That’s fine if the environment is your only priority, but will likely stick in the craw of the political partisans whose donations fuel most election campaigns. The Democratic netroots won’t be keen to share their campaign cash with even the most environmentally friendly of GOP candidates; neither will many Republicans be eager to fork out for a rival’s reelection bid. For now, sadly, the LCV’s campaign looks more like a worthy gimmick than a genuine game-changer.


This is really interesting! I just came across your website, but I will definitely stick around if you do more green politics "insider" stuff like this.

Thanks, Jensen! Happy you stopped by.

BTW, a slight clarification: the LCV site does let you make donations to candidates from a specific party, although you have to jump through a few hoops in order to do so. I'm not sure that'll be enough to win over the Kossacks, but it's a start...