January 03, 2020

Sanders, Buttigieg Get Enough Cash to Make 2020 a Long Race
(Bloomberg) -- Huge fundraising hauls by some of the 2020 Democratic candidates point to a long road to the presidential nomination that could crush front-runner Joe Biden’s hopes of securing an early victory.Bernie Sanders blew the competition away by reporting he’d raised $34.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, built on 5 million individual donations. Pete Buttigieg pulled in more than $24.7 million, despite polling in single-digits nationally.Biden had his best quarter yet, but still raised less, at $22.7 million, despite leading in voter preference polls. Elizabeth Warren reported collecting $21.2 million, behind her three main rivals as she faced attacks at the end of the year after rising near the top of the pack.In a memo sent to supporters Thursday, Biden campaign manager Greg Schultz touted his fundraising efforts and his strong position in the polls. The former vice president is at 28.3% in the Real Clear Politics average, with Sanders in second place at 19.1%. The campaign is spending $5.2 million on its tech and digital infrastructure, critical for online fundraising and for reaching voters through digital platforms.Sanders and Buttigieg face uncertain paths to the nomination, but the money assures they’ll be well-funded for the long haul and won’t face financial pressure to drop out for some time. And a win or a strong showing in the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses or the Feb. 11 New Hampshire primary would pry open Democratic wallets even wider.Without pressure to make way for the likely nominee, second- and third-place candidates could push the front-runner to embrace their policy positions or withhold support that could consolidate the field. They could also force the front-runner to spend a huge amount of money fighting off challengers, leaving him or her weakened going into the general election against the massive resources of President Donald Trump.“Any candidate who finishes in the top three in Iowa is going to raise big money,” said Robin Kolodny, a political science professor at Temple University in Philadelphia. Many donors, especially those making smaller contributions, only begin giving in the election year itself -- when fundraising surges as front-runners emerge.Kolodny said the lower cost of digital media compared with television advertising keeps campaigns in the game longer. “Money’s not completely irrelevant, there’s a certain threshold that you need,” she said, in order to be credible. “It’s not as critical that you have this huge wad of cash to win the air war.”So far the biggest spenders are the two candidates relying on their personal wealth. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has spent $163 million on broadcast, cable and digital ads, according to Advertising Analytics, while former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer has spent $86 million. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.Message and Money“There are only a handful a candidates who can get their message out nationwide by Super Tuesday — Warren, Sanders, Biden, Buttigieg, and the billionaires,” said Jamal Raad, a Democratic strategist who worked on Jay Inslee’s unsuccessful 2020 bid, referring to the collection of primaries on March 3.But money alone doesn’t win races, Raad said, and Buttigieg in particular needs to shine in the early predominantly-white states before the nomination battle moves to states with more diverse electorates with whom he’s weak.“He’s made a big bet on Iowa and New Hampshire, and it doesn’t matter how much money he has if he doesn’t perform well in the early states,” Raad said.Buttigieg’s campaign says it’s opened 35 field offices in Iowa, where he is narrowly leading in the Real Clear Politics polling average. The campaign has 100 organizers in the state, and has spent $7.2 million on television, radio and cable ads there. In New Hampshire, the campaign has 70 organizers and offices in every county.Sanders has spent $6.8 million buying broadcast and cable ads in Iowa and $4.2 million in New Hampshire. Overall he’s spent $20.2 million on paid media, including $8.5 million on digital advertising.Warren sought to lower expectations before the end of 2019 by telling supporters she had raised $17 million, calling it a “good chunk behind” her sum for the previous quarter.Warren, like Sanders, has jettisoned high-dollar fundraisers as she runs on an anti-corruption platform that blames the influence of big money for political dysfunction. While the tactic has solidified her brand as a populist crusader and brought in large sums of small-donor money, she raised about $13 million less than Sanders, the runner-up for the 2016 nomination, in the final quarter of 2019.She has maintained her place in the top tier, but has seen her poll numbers slipping as she struggles to explain her position on government-run health care and as her key rivals compete for support -- Biden with moderate Democrats, Sanders with progressives and Buttigieg with white college graduates.Sean McElwee, a left-wing organizer and co-founder of the research group Data For Progress, said that there will be “intense pressures toward consolidation once voting has actually started.”He said that Biden’s path has always been focused on amassing a large number of delegates by March.“Nothing that happened in 2019 has foreclosed on that possibility,” he said.And all of the candidates face the fact that Trump substantially out-raised each of the Democrats in the same quarter when he was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives. His campaign announced that he had raised $46 million in the final three months of the year.(Updates with Warren fundraising figures in third, 15th and 16th paragraphs)To contact the reporters on this story: Bill Allison in Washington DC at ballison14@bloomberg.net;Sahil Kapur in Washington at skapur39@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at wbenjaminson@bloomberg.net, Steve GeimannFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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