"Democracy Alliance is a hub where prominent progressive donors come to get organized," said president and managing director Kelly Craighead.
Those active in Democratic fundraising circles said national and state independent groups were looking to raise about $200 million to $250 million for this election cycle, about half of the expected take of Republican-aligned organizations.
Democrats are not lagging in all areas of campaign fundraising, however. President Obama's $90-million haul so far for his reelection campaign dwarfs those of his Republican rivals, and an additional $65 million raised by his campaign has gone to the Democratic National Committee.
When the Supreme Court paved the way for unlimited political giving in last year's Citizens United case, it opened up a gusher of money for independent groups seeking to sway elections ranging from state legislature seats to the presidency.
Nationally, it has been conservative groups that have taken to this new world of campaign finance with gusto. A sophisticated network of groups — guided by experienced operatives including Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, and funded by backers such as the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch — first made its mark in the 2010 cycle. Democrats now anticipate they'll be up against a staggering amount of resources.
Democrats have countered with a network of their own, with groups dedicated to spending money on the presidential race, the House, the Senate and a war room churning out research on the opposition.
Labor groups such as the AFL-CIO have also formed "super PACs," which are allowed to raise unlimited sums of money from individuals, corporations and unions. The four major Democratic groups — Priorities USA (run by former White House aides), Majority PAC, House Majority PAC and American Bridge — had a combined $4.6 million on hand as of Sept. 30, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
By contrast, American Crossroads alone had $4.9 million in the bank. The figures do not account for affiliated nonprofit 501c(4) groups on either side, which do not have to disclose their donors. In all, the Crossroads groups expect to raise $240 million by next November, while Priorities' super PAC and nonprofit arm anticipate pulling in $100 million.