Aside from measuring post-debate polls, it’s always worth watching the fundraising numbers to judge which candidates had a debate night good enough to encourage some open checkbooks. On Tuesday, the usual dynamic of moderate versus liberal played out on stage, but there were a few surprises concerning which candidates ended up walking away with the biggest fundraising boost.
According to a report from CBS News, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Mayor Pete Buttigieg were the overall winners during the 24-hour period following the October debate, with Sen. Bernie Sanders also getting an uptick:
Senator Amy Klobuchar, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaigns are all reporting significant fundraising boosts for the 24-hour period following the primetime event in Ohio on Tuesday.
During that time, Klobuchar raised $1.1 million in donations, which amounts to nearly 25% of what she raised from July through September, according to her campaign. It was not only her campaign’s best day in online fundraising to date, her team also gained more new supporters than on any other day.
It could be called the “Moderate Rebellion” of 2019, with Klobuchar and Buttigieg each hitting hard against Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders. For Bernie, perhaps, his fundraising bump could’ve been a result of supporters seeing him once again in good health following his heart procedure and debating with a renewed vigor to prove himself capable of the day-to-day campaign.
There is no denying that Warren kept taking attacks one after another, much more so than in prior debates. For Klobuchar and Buttigieg to see a fundraising payday as a result of their performance certainly indicates that there are some Democratic voters out there who aren’t sold on Biden or Warren, and perhaps want to see a different face in the top three.
It’s also worth noting that Bernie has been more forthcoming when it comes to questions about how he would pay for his expansive social programs. He freely admits that taxes would go up on the wealthy, and basically everyone else, but that those increases would be offset by the elimination of health insurance premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. Perhaps voters appreciate his clear-cut honesty on the subject.
Writing for the Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin opined on how Klobuchar and Buttigieg can keep the momentum going after they earned notice on the debate stage this week. Rubin’s roadmap starts in Iowa and lays out a way for both candidates to overperform expectations and create a winning strategy:
First, they head for Iowa. Buttigieg has a considerable presence on the ground there, with 22 offices as of Oct 12. His recent bus tour attracted big crowds and positive media coverage. He has been moving up in the Iowa polls; in the RealClearPolitics average, he now draws 12 percent, just 4 points behind Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). It is in Iowa, with an intense ground game and retail political skills, that Buttigieg looks to beat expectations, which likely means finishing ahead of at least one of the top three candidates.
For Klobuchar, a good showing in a farm state bordering Minnesota is a do-or-die proposition. She has considerably less money than Buttigieg but has been able to set up 10 offices in Iowa. Beating expectations there likely means finishing in at least fourth place or a strong fifth.
Obviously, for Buttigieg, the prospects are better than they are for Klobuchar. He’s been consistently performing better than the Minnesota Senator for many months now in terms of polling and fundraising.
Rubin concludes with the most primal argument both candidates need to sell to voters:
The argument for both candidates essentially boils down to this: Warren and Sanders are scary and unelectable. I am electable, and I’m a heck of a better candidate than Biden. That is what Buttigieg and Klobuchar need to drive home again and again between now and the Iowa caucuses.
Warren has been steadily gaining on Biden in terms of being viewed as “most electable” against President Trump. In fact, in some instances, she has overtaken him on that measurement. The question is whether playing for a moderate lane is really what Democratic primary voters are looking for to counteract Biden, or Warren, for that matter.
The cash haul following the debate breathes some new life into Buttigieg and Klobuchar and gives them more reasons to keep fighting. Buttigieg is already a lock for the November debate, but Klobuchar has some more work to do since she’s currently outside the threshold in terms of polling support.
Perhaps generating some interest and some fundraising numbers may help elevate her poll numbers as well and Klobuchar can still make the cut for November.