NBC News: Democrats have figured out how to raise lots of money off Trump

House Democrats made a bet on Donald Trump that just paid off — bigly.

With two weeks to spare, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has raised twice as much money online this year as it did in 2015, officials said. Online donors gave $40.46 million in 2017 as of Thursday morning, easily outperforming the $19.7 million raised online two years ago, the most recent nonpresidential election year.

Many liberal and Democratic groups have seen a flood of donations since Trump’s election. But the DCCC, whose apocalyptic fundraising emails reporters and political operatives love to hate, gave NBC News a rare look inside the mechanics of monetizing the Trump backlash.

A few days after the election, Julia Ager, the DCCC’s digital director, and her team tentatively dipped their toes into the new uncharted political waters with a simple email asking supporters to sign a petition “to hold Republicans accountable.”

In the rhetoric of Trump-era politics, the ask could not have been more generic.

Online fundraising has become a billion-dollar business in politics with reams of data to inform every little move. But like everyone else, Ager’s crew had no idea how dispirited Democrats would react to Hillary Clinton’s shocking defeat. So they watched and waited for the results.