New Year, New Money

It’s a new year, and you know what that means: Q4 fundraising reports. Ori Simon Bechtel gives us a look.

Quarter four of 2019 was filled with surprises. Beto O’Rourke and Kamala Harris dropped out in December, Pete Buttigieg started leading the polls in Iowa, and Amy Klobuchar somehow resurrected a dying campaign. But we’re here to talk cash, and quarter four was big for some, not so big for others.

Bernie Sanders, quite notably, raised a staggering 34.5 million dollars in Q4, a 36% increase over Q3. He achieved this with an average contribution of $18. He led the bunch in total number of donations as well as money raised, outperforming lofty expectations. All this was achieved despite a heart attack suffered early in the 4th quarter, which bodes well for the stability of the Sanders campaign.

Second place was Pete Buttigieg, raking in 24.7 million from his donors, with an average contribution of $33. That 33 dollar figure, though, should be taken with a grain of salt, as the campaign had a much-publicized “lowest donation contest,” likely to lower their average contribution. It’s unclear how much of an effect this had, but any way you slice it, 24.7 million dollars is a very impressive figure, and it represents a 29% increase over the previous quarter.

Coming in with an impressive rebound over an anemic 3rd quarter, Joe Biden managed a 22.7 million dollar fundraising haul, a 45% increase over quarter 3. This was achieved with an average donation of $41. This may be a sign that the mutterings of unrest in the Biden camp following the Q3 fundraising announcement were not anything too serious, as this is a perfectly respectable amount, if not particularly impressive given that he still remains the frontrunner for the nomination.

Elizabeth Warren’s fundraising numbers took the hardest hit this quarter, down 14 percent from her Q3 numbers, leaving her at a 21.2 million dollar fourth quarter, with her average contribution at $23. This decline in fundraising reflects a recent dive in polling numbers that has seen her slip from dueling with Biden for the lead back to a vulnerable third in the RealClearPolitics average.

Rounding out the top five is Andrew Yang, who raised many eyebrows with a 16.5 million dollar fourth quarter. He achieved this with an average donation of $30. This represents a whopping 65% jump from Q3. Supporters may claim this represents a transformation of the young entrepreneur into a serious contender, and it’s possible that they’re right, as some of the signs that point to an incoming surge of support are present.

Amy Klobuchar, by virtue of her massive (138%!) fundraising growth from Q3 to Q4, does get an honorable mention here, in 6th place, with an 11.4 million dollar Q4 and an average contribution of $32. It is possible that she could be a contender down the road, although her path to the nomination seems murkier than that of many of her competitors.

And while other candidates were tallying up their funds, former Secretary Julián Castro announced he was suspending his presidential campaign. His endorsement of Warren came as a surprise to many, and may help Warren’s numbers.

So what do these numbers mean going forward? Well, there’s not a whole lot to be concerned about for any of these candidates, not even Warren. Expect Buttigieg to continue to go all-in on Iowa, Biden to continue to focus his efforts on South Carolina, and more involvement and a higher burn rate from the newly-emboldened Klobuchar and Yang campaigns in the early states.


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