Sanders Boasts $34.5M, Leading Democratic Donor Race

(CN) – Touting a reputed small-donor record, Senator Bernie Sanders ended the final quarter of the decade by reporting $34.5 million in campaign contributions, comfortably leading the Democratic pack in fundraising a month ahead of primary vote.

“Bernie Sanders is closing the year with the most donations of any candidate in history at this point in a presidential campaign,” campaign manager Faiz Shakir said in statement, referring to the more than 5 million contributions since the Vermont senator announced his candidacy. “He is proving each and every day that working class Americans are ready and willing to fully fund a campaign that stands up for them and takes on the biggest corporations and the wealthy.”

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a town hall meeting on Dec. 15, 2019, in Keokuk, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

President Donald Trump’s campaign reported meanwhile that it closed out the final quarter of the last decade with $46 million, comfortably ahead of each of his potential rivals but far behind the combined total of the Democrat field.

Describing Trump’s re-election machine as an “unstoppable juggernaut,” campaign manager Brad Parscale took the opportunity to bash the press and the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives for making the Republican incumbent the third impeached president in U.S. history. 

“Democrats and the media have been in a sham impeachment frenzy and the president’s campaign only got bigger and stronger with our best fundraising quarter this cycle,” Pascale said in a statement.

Behind the seemingly sturdy numbers, a shakier portrait emerges: The Washington Post’s political correspondent noted that the Democratic field of candidates is on pace to double Trump’s haul, well before a single vote has been cast in the primary season.

“That is really, really unusual,” reporter Dave Weigel observed. “The 2012 GOP field and 2004 Dem field did not outpace incumbent presidents.”

Pete Buttigieg, whose term as mayor South Bend, Indiana, ended with the new year, became the second-largest fundraiser for the final quarter of 2019 with a reported $24.7 million in donations, nearly $10 million behind Sanders.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has been a steady frontrunner in the polling, came in third in the last month’s fundraising race with $22.7 million. Biden comfortably paced ahead of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, whose coffers slowed dramatically last quarter. Her campaign reporting a 30% drop in donations to $17 million.  

Lagging only slightly behind that number, entrepreneur Andrew Yang raked in $16.5 million — enough to sustain a campaign that has popularized ideas of a universal basic income but has never managed to break behind low-single digits polling numbers.

The Sanders campaign describes its small-donor backing as an asset in an electoral fight that will require endurance from financial supporters.

With an $18.53 average contribution, the campaign reports, more than 99.9% of their donors have not maxed out and can open their checkbooks again.

“You build a grassroots movement to beat Donald Trump and create a political revolution one $18 donation at a time, and that’s exactly why Bernie is going to win,” Shakir said.

In a month and one day, the Democratic primary race will kick off in earnest with the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3.

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