Sanders Comes Close To Clinton In Fund Raising For Second Consecutive Quarter Despite Depending On Small Donors

Sanders Contributions

Bernie Sanders has raised over $33 million dollars in the fourth quarter, nearly matching Clinton’s reported contributions of $37 million, without the big money donors she has. While Clinton got off to an earlier start in 2015, Sanders has come close to her in the past two quarters. The Washington Post reports:

Sanders’s fundraising, which continues to be fueled largely by small online donations, ensures that he will be in a position to compete, however, with the party’s front-runner through the first several nominating contests, which begin next month in Iowa and New Hampshire…

Aides to Sanders touted a figure showing that 99.9 percent of Sanders’s financial supporters have given less than the legal maximum of $2,700, meaning they can be tapped again if Sanders performs strongly in the early caucuses and primaries. To date, they said, more than 1 million people have given to the campaign of the self-described democratic socialist, who was initially written off as a fringe candidate when he entered the race.

“What we are showing is that we can run a strong, national campaign without a super PAC and without depending on millionaires and billionaires for their support,” said Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver. “We are making history, and we are proud of it.”

Sanders entered the new year with $28.4 million in the bank for his primary campaign, compared to the nearly $38 million the Clinton campaign said it had on hand as of Dec. 31…

Aides said Sanders has built a stable of 1 million donors more quickly than any other White House candidate. In 2008, Barack Obama did not report receiving a contribution from his one millionth donor until Feb. 27 of the election year, they said.

CNN added information on how Sanders has spent the money he has raised:

The final quarter of 2015 also saw Sanders dramatically increase his spending. According to aides, the campaign ended 2015 with $28.4 million cash on hand. That is only $2 million more than the $26.2 million the campaign had in the bank at the end of the third quarter of 2015, meaning Sanders’ operation spent the bulk of what they raised in the fourth quarter.

Much of that spending, according to aides, was focused on building infrastructure in early primary states, including deploying organizers to South Carolina and Nevada, and building the campaign’s already existing organization in Iowa and New Hampshire.

For the year, Sanders’ campaign spent 61% of the money it brought in.

As in the third quarter, when Sanders finished slightly behind Clinton in fund raising, Sanders raised his money primarily from small donations. I don’t have specifics yet for this quarter, but in the third quarter 17.6 percent of Clinton’s donations were from small donors compared to 76.7 percent for Sanders. This could pay off if the nomination battle continues into the spring as Sanders supporters can continue to contribute while far more of Clinton’s contributors have reached the maximum. This might not actually hurt Clinton considering the unprecedented (and possibly illegal) degree to which she coordinates with her super PAC.

The unprecedented number of individuals donating towards the Sanders campaign demonstrates a commitment towards changing the status quo, as opposed to continuing the politics of Hillary Clinton and her Republican opponents. This hopefully indicates that many more new voters will also turn out in the caucuses and primaries than the pollsters are predicting.

Many polls use screens such as having participated in the last two votes to determine whether someone is a likely voter, excluding many Sanders supporters, especially those not old enough to vote eight years ago. This is just one of several reasons why polls of primary races quite often differ substantially from the actual result. On the one hand, Sanders is behind Clinton in the polls for the nomination (while often out-performing her in general election match-ups against Republicans). On the other hand, Sanders is in a position quite similar to the one Obama was in heading into the Iowa caucus. He does face greater challenges in some respects compared to Obama, but Clinton also has even more baggage to defend now than eight years ago, including scandals, the hawkish positions she has taken both as Secretary of State and during the campaign, and her attacks on Sanders from the right on domestic policy.

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