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Sanders and Warren Lead Democratic Fundraising In Third Quarter

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speaking with supporters at a 2016 campaign rally at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren speaking with supporters in April, 2019 at a town hall at Bonanza High School in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Both Photos: Gage Skidmore)
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speaking with supporters at a 2016 campaign rally at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren speaking with supporters in April, 2019 at a town hall at Bonanza High School in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Both Photos: Gage Skidmore)

While some celebrate Bernie Sanders’ and Elizabeth Warren’s fundraising success as a positive sign for progressive politics, the money is still rolling in for Donald Trump.

Progressives Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren led fundraising in the third quarter of the 2020 presidential contest, surpassing big-donor friendly rivals Joe Biden and Mayor Pete Buttigieg despite shunning big-money fundraisers.

Sanders led the field with $25.3 million. He received 1.4 million donations in the third quarter at an average of $18 per donation, demonstrating the vitality of his grassroots base.

Warren, who has been rising in the polls, closely followed Sanders with $24.6 million in donations. Warren’s average donor last quarter gave $26, and the Massachusetts Senator had 300,000 donors giving for the first time.

“Progressive politics are winning politics, period,” Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the non-profit Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said of Sanders and Warrens’ impressive hauls. “They are clearly the strongest, most electable candidates.”

Warren campaign manager Roger Lau celebrated in a Medium post, asking supporters to “close your eyes and picture Wall Street bankers scowling into their catered breakfast.”

Candidates who have been more reliant on wealthy donors slipped this quarter, such as South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who raised $19.1 million, a fall from the $24.9 million he took in last quarter, when he topped the field in donations and proved especially popular with Wall Street.

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign followed Buttigieg with $15.2 million in the past three months, which some analysts view as evidence of his electoral vulnerability despite his consistently strong position in most polls.

“We haven’t raised what a lot of people have — we got started way later than everybody else, but we’ve raised, this last quarter, $15 million, in the middle of summer,” Biden said. Biden saw his fund-raising decrease about 30 percent from the previous quarter.

Analysts view Sanders and Warren’s success over Biden and Buttigieg as demonstrative of the changing role of online small-donor donations in electoral contests.

Following Biden, Senator Kamala Harris raised $11.6 million, Andrew Yang raised more than $10 million and Senator Cory Booker raised more than $6 million, while Beto O’Rourke and others have yet to release their totals, which are due by October 15.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee comfortably out-raised their Democratic competition, raking in $125 million in the third quarter of 2019. Trump’s campaign attributed his successful fundraising, which outmatches Obama’s $70 million third-quarter fundraisings for a second term in 2011, to the intensifying threat of impeachment.

Trump’s re-election effort has taken in a total of $308 million so far this year and has over $156m in the bank, according to his campaign. It is hard to draw a clear comparison with Democratic fundraising, however, because the incumbent holds an advantage at this stage of the presidential contest. Democratic candidates are unable to work with the Democratic National Committee while Trump has the full support of the Republican National Committee.

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Peter Castagno

Peter Castagno is a freelance writer with a Master’s degree in International Conflict Resolution. He has traveled throughout the Middle East and Latin America to gain firsthand insight in some of the world’s most troubled areas, and he plans on publishing his first book in 2019.

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