The fundraising reports are in for the first quarter of 2019. The big news was the $30 million raised by President Trump’s re-election campaign, but the fundraising stats from the plethora of Democratic candidates could shed some light on who donors consider to be a viable candidate. Fundraising numbers also provide access to an important platform for Democrats. Only candidates with at least 65,000 individual donors will qualify to participate in the first Democratic primary debate in June 2019.
Candidate reports from the first quarter, which are available on Open Secrets, show that Bernie Sanders is the undisputed money leader in the race so far. Sanders raised more than $18 million, not counting transfers from previous campaigns. More than $15 million of Sanders’ take was from small donors, reflecting his extensive grassroots network. This bodes well both for Bernie’s ability to continue to raise money and his ability to tap into his donor network to find volunteers to work his campaign.
Kamala Harris was in second place with a $12 million take, which also excludes transfers. In contrast with Sanders, Harris received more than half of her donations, $7.6 million, from large donors. Harris has shown a better ability to raise money than to garner support, averaging about eight percent in polling.
In third place was Beto O’Rourke with $9.3 million. As with Bernie, Beto raised more money from small donors, but about 40 percent of his donations also came from large donors. This shows a good mix of grassroots and wealthy backers.
Pete Buttigieg was the surprising fourth-place finisher with more than $7 million. Buttigieg, who averages about five percent in polling, also performed well with both small and large donors.
A quartet of congressional figures make up the next four finishers. The campaigns of Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, and Kirsten Gillibrand were boosted by transfers from prior campaign coffers but none seem to have gained traction either in the polls or with donors. Warren is the only candidate of the four to raise a significant amount ($4.2 million) from small donors. The others don’t seem to have much grassroots support.
When it comes to cash on hand, Bernie Sanders is the leader once again. The Sanders campaign has more than $15.6 million in the bank, which is significantly more than Elizabeth Warren, who was in second place with $11.2 million.
The next four on the list were boosted by transfers from previous campaigns. John Delaney, a former congressman from Maryland, has the third-largest war chest with $10.5 million. Gillibrand, Harris, and Klobuchar follow in order with accounts ranging from $10.1 to $6.9 million.
In the seventh and eighth positions are newcomers Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg. O’Rourke held $6.8 million while Buttigieg had $6.4 million. Both of these candidates have strong fundraising numbers and will likely see their bottom lines increase sharply in the coming months.
Rounding out the top-tier candidates is Cory Booker. The New Jersey senator had just over $6.1 million in his bank account at the end of the first quarter.
Obviously, the big winner in the fundraising race so far is Bernie Sanders. His strong fundraising among small donors reflects a veritable army of dedicated grassroots supporters that will present a formidable opponent for the other Democratic hopefuls.
Other winners include Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg. The newcomers both had surprisingly strong showings that will enable them to get their names and messages out to primary voters. Fox Business reported that average donation for the Buttigieg campaign was $36.35. Simple math shows that this would almost certainly give the recently unknown candidate a place in the first debate.
Kamala Harris was also a winner. As the second-place fundraiser, her campaign is bringing in enough cash to keep going for the foreseeable future despite a poor showing in the polls.
The big loser was Elizabeth Warren who had very disappointing fundraising numbers. Her previous frontrunner status stands in stark contrast to her current status as a has-been who has generated little interest. Warren has a large war chest, however, so don’t look for her to drop out any time soon.
Everyone else was also a loser. The group of Washington insiders, Klobuchar, Booker, and Gillibrand, also had disappointing results, in terms of both polling and fundraising. Large war chests will enable these candidates to stay in the race at least until the first debate.
The plethora of other candidates may not be so lucky. The numerous small and unknown candidates may start dropping out soon. If they don’t start to gain enough traction to get a seat at the debate, there will be little reason for them to stay in the race.
The wild card is Joe Biden. Biden is not reflected in the fundraising numbers despite leading in the polls because he does not have an active campaign yet. If Biden is serious about running, he is working to prepare potential donors to start giving as soon as he makes his announcement. The former vice president and senator is an experienced politician with an extensive network from his previous campaigns. He will hope to outraise the $6.1 million raised by Beto and the $5.9 million garnered by Bernie in the first 24 hours of their campaigns to affirm his status as the frontrunner.
Finally, Republicans should not feel too confident despite Donald Trump’s $30 million haul. While this is more than any Democrat, it should be noted that Democratic fundraising is splintered among a crowded field and many Democrat donors may be waiting for Joe Biden to enter the race. Despite Trump’s impressive number, it only takes two Democratic candidates, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris, to eclipse the president’s haul. It may not be long before Democratic donors rally behind a presumed nominee and President Trump’s fundraising lead begins to quickly erode.
Originally published on The Resurgent