DemDaily: The Candidates: By The Numbers
January 6, 2020
The 2020 election year is officially underway and the presidential contenders closed out 2019 with the release of their fourth quarter fundraising totals.
The numbers are considered an important indicator of the strength and momentum of each campaign as the candidates begin their sprint to the Iowa Caucus, now less than one month away.
Senator Bernie Sanders topped the field at $34.5 million, the most successful quarter for a candidate yet.
Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg followed with $24.7 million and former Vice President Joe Biden with $22.7 million, both up from the third quarter.
Of the five candidates who qualified for the next debate on January 14th, all exceeded their previous quarter performances except for Senator Elizabeth Warren, whose $21.2 million total slips behind her 3rd quarter haul of $24.6 million.
Like Sanders, Warren is relying on grassroots fundraising rather than traditional high dollar events, like those held in the "wine caves" she described in going after Buttigieg on the issue.
However, while money may indicate a depth of dedicated support, it doesn't necessarily mean breadth.
While Sanders, Buttigieg, Biden and Warren are still clearly leading the fundraising contest, having raised in excess of $20 million each in the fourth quarter, Buttigieg still remains on the other side of the national polling divide.
A RealClearPolitics average of seven national polls (12/12/19-12/31/19) shows Biden at 29.3%, Sanders 19.9%, Warren 14.4%, Buttigieg 7.7%, Bloomberg 5.6%, Yang 3.4%, Klobuchar 3.0%
Booker 2.3, Gabbard 2.0%, Steyer 1.9%, Castro 1.1% and the rest below 1%.
(former HUD Secretary Julián Castro dropped out of the race January 2nd)
Similarly, tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang had a banner quarter at $16.5 million, a 67% increase in support, but he consistently remains below 4% in the polls.
Senator Cory Booker exceeded his third quarter numbers, as did Senator Amy Klobuchar, who more than doubled her third quarter numbers, but both remain more than 10% points behind the top contenders.
Billionaire Tom Steyer, who raised $1.5 million from small donors in the third quarter, and spent an additional $45.5 million of his own personal funds in the same period, has yet to release his fourth quarter numbers.
Nor have Senator Michael Bennet, former Congressman John Delaney, former Governor Deval Patrick, or author Marianne Williamson released theirs. Candidates have a deadline of January 15th to file their reports with the Federal Election Commission.
Late entry and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose estimated worth exceeds $57 billion, is not accepting campaign donations. The self-funder has spent over $100 million in advertising since entering the race November 25th.
Bloomberg, however, is not competing in the first four primary states, leaving some room on air for candidates like Buttigieg, who is pouring his resources into the first-in-the-nation caucus in Iowa on February 3rd. For Buttigieg, it is paying off.
A 12/27/19-1/3/2020 CBS/You Gov poll shows Buttigieg tied with Biden and Sanders at 23% among likely Iowa caucus voters, followed by Warren 16%, Klobuchar 7%, Booker 3%, Yang and Steyer 2.3%, and Gabbard at 2.0%.
Iowa and the February 11th New Hampshire primary are the first tests of primary voters and a strong showing can propel a candidate like Buttigieg into the top national polling tier. They will also be a make-or-break point for the future of the now fourteen contenders competing to take the White House.
The Larger Picture
While Democrats continue to battle over their nominee, President Trump, unhindered by a competitive primary race, reported his campaign raised $46 million in the fourth quarter.
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Sources: FEC, Center for Responsive Politics