Bernie Sanders put to rest any suggestion that the movement behind him has faded since his first run for president as his campaign team announced Tuesday that he had raised an immense amount of cash from a huge number of donors.
Sanders’ campaign collected $18.2 million from 525,000 donors — most of them under age 39 — in the first quarter of 2019, campaign officials said. The intimidating show of financial force will probably position Sanders to compete aggressively in every key state, giving him more resources than most of his Democratic rivals. Eighty percent of the donors had given to a previous Sanders campaign, reflecting his durability as a candidate.
Sanders’ fundraising announcement was one of several events in recent days that have begun to shape the contours of a presidential race that has already veered in some unexpected directions.
For Sanders, whose average contribution in the first fundraising quarter was just $20, the largest number of donors came from California. Some 97,000 Californians gave to him, reflecting his strength even in a state with its own strong candidate, Harris, on the ballot.
But the number from the Sanders team that is most likely to intimidate rivals is the total amount of cash it has in the bank — $28million, which includes money raised before he launched his current presidential run.
The cash should position Sanders to launch a full-service campaign operation in every state with a contest on or before Super Tuesday on March 3, including some, like California, that other candidates won’t be able to afford to pursue aggressively.
“These resources are going to allow us to compete on all levels in all of the Super Tuesday states,” said Jeff Weaver, a lead Sanders advisor. “A number of [other] campaigns are going to have to make difficult choices.”
While strength in fundraising is an advantage, it doesn’t always translate into an impressive election day showing. Other candidates who have come out of the gate dominant in the money race have faltered in the race for votes. The collapse of Republican Jeb Bush’s candidacy in 2016 is a prime example.
But at this time when small donors are fueling the biggest campaigns, Sanders’ fundraising reflects not just financial strength, but a grass-roots momentum that other candidates envy. One hundred donors kicking in 20 bucks each provide considerably more value to a campaign than one person who writes a check for $2,000.
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