We’ve been waiting for Warren’s number since last week when reports indicated that former vice president Joe Biden’s fundraising was down 35% from the previous quarter. Sen. Bernie Sanders easily beat Biden with a $25.3 million haul to Biden’s $15.2 million.
After a few days of delay, Warren’s numbers are out and they’re a hair behind Bernie, but lightyears ahead of Biden. Warren hauled in $24.6 million in the third quarter of 2019, an amount which puts her practically tied for the most-raised over the past three months:
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders greatly eclipsed former Vice President Joe Biden in fundraising over the past three months, placing progressive Democrats on strong footing in the crucial final stretch before primary voting begins.
Warren’s campaign reported to donors Friday morning that the Massachusetts senator raised $24.6 million from more than half a million donors in the fundraising quarter that ended Monday. The amount is just shy of the haul by her Senate colleague and fellow progressive Sanders, of Vermont, who earlier in the week reported raising $25.3 million.
“Our grassroots movement is in an incredible position,” Warren campaign manager Roger Lau said in an e-mail to supporters. He invited them to “close your eyes and picture Wall Street bankers scowling into their catered breakfast” upon hearing of Warren’s haul. Some 300,000 donors to Warren in the last quarter were giving to her for the first time.
If nothing else, there is some vindication for Warren who is building an argument of electability compared to Biden at an alarming rate.
On the other hand, Bernie Sanders is still the fundraising king, able to bring in many more small-dollar donations from a wide trough of donors. Despite his lagging polls, which put him on average sitting in the third-place position behind Warren, his supporters are deeply motivated and deeply enthusiastic to vote for him and continue pouring cash into his candidacy.
Here are the third quarter (July, August, September) numbers with Warren’s now included in the list:
Bernie Sanders: $25.3 million
Elizabeth Warren: $24.6 million
Pete Buttigieg: $19.1 million
Joe Biden: $15.2 million
Kamala Harris: $11.6 million
Andrew Yang: $10 million
Cory Booker: $6 million
The LA Times literally calls Biden’s number “anemic” in comparison to Warren and Sanders. Especially when Biden has been the proverbial “frontrunner” since late Spring when he announced his campaign. Biden’s still doing well in South Carolina, perhaps his firewall due to the large contingent of African-American voters in the Democratic primary, but he’s faulting everywhere else on the primary map.
The numbers for Biden were so bad, in fact, that he huddled over the weekend with donors to come up with a gameplan to dig out of this campaign hole, as the New York Times reported:
Over cocktails on Friday evening and a Saturday spent in a drab hotel conference room, Mr. Biden’s top financiers and fund-raisers received strategy briefings and PowerPoint presentations, and plotted the path forward for the former vice president, who suddenly found himself in fourth place in the money chase.
While some were downbeat about the financial figures, Mr. Biden’s slip in the polls and the onslaught from Mr. Trump, the Biden loyalists described a sense of almost burden and responsibility. If Mr. Biden is to compete financially with the online windfalls of Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren, several donors said, they believe it would be on the shoulders of the bundlers assembled here.
“All of us realize that Joe Biden does not have the online fund-raising capability of a Warren. Warren has been doing it longer than him. Sanders has been doing it longer than him,” said Dick Harpootlian, a prominent South Carolina supporter who hosted a fund-raiser for Mr. Biden in May.
A former Vice President, who served in office for eight years under one of the most popular Democratic Presidents in history shouldn’t be getting beaten this easily in terms of fundraising. There is obviously some kind of fear and hesitation on the part of donors opening their checkbooks for Biden. Perhaps it’s that Biden is unable to tap into small-dollar donors, as Warren and Sanders do so well. Biden’s fundraising machine was built for a political world where small donations are nice, but big-time bundler fundraisers are where the money really comes from.
The Times story noted that very issue hampering Biden’s numbers:
Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren, who refuse to hold traditional fund-raisers or coddle members of the contributor class like those gathered in Philadelphia, have raced ahead of Mr. Biden in fund-raising by attracting hundreds of thousands of small donors online. Ms. Warren had 940,000 donations in the last three months; Mr. Sanders had 1.4 million; Mr. Biden, who sharply cut back digital spending in August, has not disclosed his total number of donations.
Biden is not an “individual donor” kind of politician, he’s part of the party establishment. He’s from the generation when donors just opened their checkbooks for whoever was next in line. In 2019, however, there are many other ways to raise money and many other ways to connect with voters who may only chip in $20 to a campaign. However, multiply that $20 times a few million people and you’ve got some huge cash flow and impressive numbers.
There are crossroads forming in the Democratic primary campaign right now. Biden will need to do something to reassure donors that he’s worth the effort. The upcoming debates in October and November offer some new opportunities, and risks, along the way.