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Democratic Candidates Big on First Quarter Fundraising

As the Democratic primary pool grows, candidates vying for the nomination are hitting the campaign trails to discuss their platform and message with potential supporters. In this election cycle, Democratic candidates are emphasizing the importance of their fundraising numbers, especially small-dollar contributions, as an indicator of how much support they have among the general public.

With the first quarter coming to a close, 2020 hopefuls have been releasing their figures from the fundraising period between Jan 1 and March 31. Despite April 15th being the deadline for candidates to report their fundraising numbers to the Federal Election Committee, some candidates have been eager to share their numbers.

Candidates have until April 15 to present to the FEC their first quarter fundraising earnings. Photo:  fec.gov

Candidates have until April 15 to present to the FEC their first quarter fundraising earnings. Photo: fec.gov

Leading the crowded field amongst those who have shared their fundraising statistics is Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who also ran against Former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, during the previous Democratic primary. Since announcing his 2020 bid in mid-February, Sanders said he has raised $18.2 million from 525,000 individual donors in the 41-day period since his launch.

Raising almost $20 million, this is a tremendous feat for the Vermont Senator. The campaign said that the average contribution was $20 and that 88% of the fundraising initiative was from people who had given $200 or less. Faiz Shakir, the campaign’s manager, said, “supporters have shown up big time for this campaign, huge. It took us 146 days to reach this number in 2016.”

Senator Bernie Sanders is leading the crowded primary field with a total of $18.2 million. Photo: Yuri Gripas/ Reuters

Senator Bernie Sanders is leading the crowded primary field with a total of $18.2 million. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

Coming in second behind Sanders is Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), with a total of $12 million in fundraising from 138,000 individual donors. Following Harris is South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has brought in $7 million from 155,550 donors. Buttigieg, whose campaign had been under the radar since his announcement in January, comes as a surprise to many political analysts and pundits.

Although former Congressman Beto O’Rourke’s (D-TX) campaign has not released their official numbers yet, it is suspected that candidate has raised over $10 million. O’Rourke raised a record-breaking $6.1 million in the first 24-hours since announcing his candidacy, beating Sanders. O’Rourke’s campaign said it had raised $9.4 million from 218,000 contributors in 18 days.

O’Rourke, the former Texas Congressman, fundraised a record $6.1 million in the first 24 hours. Photo:  Mike Stravato

O’Rourke, the former Texas Congressman, fundraised a record $6.1 million in the first 24 hours. Photo: Mike Stravato

Candidates are also looking to maximize their fundraising numbers in order to claim a spot on the debate stage of the first debate in late July. For a candidate to have a place on the stage, they must receive donations from 65,000 unique donors with a minimum of 200 donors in at least 20 different states. With candidates looking to distinguish themselves in such a crowded pack, these fundraising statistics provide insight into each candidate’s grassroots support.