Bernie Sanders' Fundraising Slows, With $18 Million Haul | Off Message

Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders' Fundraising Slows, With $18 Million Haul


Sen. Bernie Sanders at a Montpelier rally in May - FILE: STEFAN HARD
  • File: Stefan Hard
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders at a Montpelier rally in May
Updated at 1:01 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) collected $18 million for his presidential bid from April through June, his campaign announced Tuesday. The candidate transferred another $6 million he'd previously raised to his 2020 presidential campaign account.

The new money came from nearly 1 million donations, which averaged $18 a pop, the campaign said. More than 99 percent of those contributions amounted to $100 or less, and 45 percent of donors were 39 years old or younger. The campaign reported having roughly $30 million in its presidential account at the end of June.

Because the campaign does not have to file comprehensive fundraising reports to the Federal Election Commission until later this month, Seven Days was not able to independently verify the figures.

"I think the number, from our perspective, demonstrates a campaign that is persistent, resilient and strong," campaign manager Faiz Shakir told reporters Tuesday morning. "It demonstrates that it is a people-powered campaign when you have nearly a million contributions coming into this campaign."

While the $18 million is a significant sum of money, it represents a day-to-day slowdown from Sanders' first months in the race.

In the first quarter of 2019, the candidate raised nearly $18.2 million. But because he did not enter the race until February 19, that money came in over just 41 days. That means he raised a daily average of roughly $443,900 that period. During the 91 days of the second quarter, he took in an average of roughly $197,800 a day.

It's unclear how Sanders' fundraising compares to most of his rivals because few have announced their second-quarter totals. At least one candidate performed better: Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., announced Monday that he'd raised $24.8 million in donations over the past three months.

Sanders’ aides downplayed the success of candidates who have been “over-reliant” on donors contributing the maximum personal contribution of $2,800.

“Some folks are going to have really big numbers in this quarter,” said senior adviser Jeff Weaver, “but they’re going to be scrambling in subsequent quarters to find those $2,800 donors to replace the ones that have been used up this time.”

Similarly, the aides criticized candidates who hold fancy fundraisers — sometimes behind closed doors.

“To his credit, Joe Biden has opened his [fundraisers] up and we learned from him that he said that nothing will fundamentally change for you,” Shakir said of the former vice president. “That’s what he told some of his high-end donors in a closed-door room. The others that are collecting that money, we don’t know what they’re saying to the donors.”

According to Shakir, teachers gave more to the campaign than any other profession, and Walmart employees gave more than employees of any other company.

That, Shakir said, “is the kind of support that we would take any day of the week over a cushy, closed-door, high-dollar fundraiser in New York City in which people eat parmesan-crusted salmon on toothpicks.”

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