Bernie Sanders announced Thursday that his campaign had raised an impressive $34.5 million in the final three months of last year, a haul sizable enough to solidify him as the latest top fundraiser in the crowded Democratic presidential field. Former Vice President Joe Biden rebounded from a summer slump to take in a respectable $22.7 million over the same period.
Still looking to play the role of political spoiler, businessman Andrew Yang collected $16.5 million in 2019's fourth quarter.
Each of the three candidates celebrated his latest fundraising for different reasons. Sanders' shows that a recent heart attack hasn't slowed him as primary voting looms. Biden trails the Vermont senator in the money race but topped his third quarter fundraising total of $15.2 million by nearly 50%. Yang, meanwhile, is still very much in the race despite being a political unknown at the beginning.
The announcements came a day after the strong $24.7 million that Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, announced raising from October through December.
While notable, the amount of money pouring into Democratic campaigns could be a mixed blessing. It suggests the party's primary may feature a long and protracted fight at a time when some would like to see a clear front-runner emerge. The lead-off Iowa caucuses are Feb. 3, and Sanders, Biden and Buttigieg have been among the leaders of the crowded field, along with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the one top candidate whose latest fundraising may not be as strong.
Like Sanders, Warren has relied heavily on small donations coming primarily online. Her campaign raised $24.6 million in the third quarter, but it acknowledged in a recent fundraising email collecting around only $17 million with a few days to go — hoping to persuade supporters to open their wallets and improve the final totals.
Warren hasn't released her fourth quarter numbers but said while campaigning in New Hampshire on Thursday that they'd be out soon.
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All Democrats, meanwhile, may need as much cash as they can get. President Donald Trump's reelection campaign announced Thursday that it had raised $46 million in the fourth quarter and had a campaign bank account of $102.7 million. How much cash those trying to unseat Trump have on hand likely won't be clear until federal reporting deadlines later this month.
Biden's campaign has relied on more traditional fundraising methods than Sanders and Warren have, including events with large donors. It said that 57% of Biden's donors in the quarter were new and that it saw a bump in fundraising compared to previous weeks while impeachment proceedings against the president were being held in the House.
“Today’s announcement is just the latest evidence of Joe Biden’s growing strength and momentum heading into the early contests of 2020,” Biden campaign manager Greg Schultz said in a statement, adding that the haul serves as ”a constant reminder to Democratic primary voters that Trump is terrified by the idea of facing Joe Biden in a general election."
Sanders' campaign said its funds came from more than 1.8 million donations, including from 40,000 new donors on the final day of the year alone.
“Bernie Sanders is closing the year with the most donations of any candidate in history at this point in a presidential campaign,” his campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, said in a statement.
Sanders' 2020 bid has now raised more than $96 million built on 5 million-plus individual donations worth an average of about $18. That's a testament to the senator's consistent campaign strength, despite facing questions when he started running about whether he could recreate the momentum from his unlikely rise to formidable primary challenger to Hillary Clinton in 2016 — and a serious health scare that might have derailed other candidates.
Sanders' campaign said that more than 99% of his donors have not reached federal donation limits, meaning they can contribute again. Its overall announced total does not include the $12.7 million Sanders transferred from other campaign accounts as part of his presidential run.
Sanders suffered a heart attack while campaigning in Las Vegas on Oct. 1. The 78-year-old has released three letters from doctors saying that he had suffered “modest heart muscle damage" but has since recovered well and is fit enough for the rigors of the presidential campaign and the White House should he win.
Sanders' campaign said its best fundraising month came in December, when it took in more than $18 million from 900,000-plus donations. It said that the most common occupation listed by its donors was teacher and that the five most common employers were Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart, the U.S. Postal Service and Target.
In an email to supporters, Sanders vowed that there will be more where that came from.
“Against Trump, I believe we will have 50 million individual contributions, at least. And at $27 a piece, that would be more than $1 billion,” Sanders wrote. “It’s absolutely obscene and outrageous that an election would cost that much money, but our campaign has proven we will be able to raise more than enough money to win.”