Fundraising numbers highlight growing divide in 2020 race

Fundraising numbers highlight growing divide in 2020 race
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The latest release of federal fundraising reports on Monday underscored the widening gap between the Democratic presidential primary contest’s top tier and those candidates struggling to gain traction in a crowded field. 

Five candidates — former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe West needs a more collaborative approach to Taiwan Abbott's medical advisers were not all consulted before he lifted Texas mask mandate House approves George Floyd Justice in Policing Act MORE, Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOn The Money: Democrats deals to bolster support for relief bill | Biden tries to keep Democrats together | Retailers fear a return of the mask wars Democrats cut deals to bolster support for relief bill Hillicon Valley: High alert as new QAnon date approaches Thursday | Biden signals another reversal from Trump with national security guidance | Parler files a new case MORE (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenHillicon Valley: High alert as new QAnon date approaches Thursday | Biden signals another reversal from Trump with national security guidance | Parler files a new case Senators question Bezos, Amazon about cameras placed in delivery vans Democrats worry Senate will be graveyard for Biden agenda MORE (D-Mass.) and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisMichelle Obama says 'everyone was concerned' about potential violence at Biden inauguration Ella Emhoff, inauguration designer join forces on knitwear collaboration Who is the Senate parliamentarian and why is she important? MORE (D-Calif.), and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegHere's who Biden is now considering for budget chief Biden's COVID, border policies prove he's serious about neither Harris pushes for support for cities in coronavirus relief package MORE — have largely pulled away from the rest of the pack, with each raising eight-digit sums in the second quarter of 2019.

Together, those five candidates have raised almost $100 million in the past three months, their federal filings show.


By comparison, nearly 20 others seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination have raised millions less than the top five contenders. That includes the likes of former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) and three current or former governors: Steve BullockSteve BullockOvernight Health Care: CDC calls for schools to reopen with precautions | Cuomo faces rising scrutiny over COVID-19 nursing home deaths | Biden officials move to begin rescinding Medicaid work requirements Montana governor lifts state mask mandate Lobbying world MORE of Montana, Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeWashington state officials warn providers offering VIP vaccine access Legislators go after governors to rein in COVID-19 powers Inslee rebukes hospital over vaccine appointments for donors MORE of Washington and John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Third approved vaccine distributed to Americans Democrats hesitant to raise taxes amid pandemic The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump's second impeachment trial begins MORE, the former governor of Colorado.

Buttigieg, who entered the presidential race in January as a relative unknown on the national stage, saw perhaps the most impressive fundraising surge over the past three months, bringing in roughly $24.9 million. 

Biden, however, was not far behind. He raised $21.5 million for his presidential bid since launching his campaign in April. That relatively late start left him with less time than most of his competitors to raise money.

Warren and Sanders, who are competing for the progressive mantle in the primary, raked in large sums of their own — $19.1 million and $18 million, respectively. Harris rounds out the top five with a second-quarter haul of just under $12 million. 

Taken together, the large hauls illustrate how a handful of contenders have largely succeeded in breaking away from the rest of the field. They are now intent on assembling the type of financial juggernauts necessary to power their campaigns through a long and arduous primary season.

Warren has brought more than 300 people onto her staff, while Harris has begun expanding her political operations in the four early primary and caucus states. 

Meanwhile, Buttigieg appears to be conserving his funds, spending only $8.8 million in the second quarter of the year — just over a third of what he raised in the same time frame.

While Democrats are focused on raising money for the primary, the eventual nominee will have to contend with President TrumpDonald TrumpHouse passes voting rights and elections reform bill DEA places agent seen outside Capitol during riot on leave Georgia Gov. Kemp says he'd 'absolutely' back Trump as 2024 nominee MORE. His campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC) announced on Monday that they had raised a combined $108 million in the second quarter, a staggering number that gives Trump an unmatched advantage in the money race.

Many of the candidates announced second-quarter fundraising numbers ahead of the July 15 deadline for filing their reports, which cover the period from April 1 to June 30. 

O’Rourke’s campaign announced his second-quarter total just hours before the filing deadline, disclosing in an email to reporters that the former congressman had raised $3.6 million over the past three months. 

That’s significantly less than the $9.3 million he raised in the roughly two-week period after his campaign launch in March. In fact, it’s notably less than the $6.1 million he raised in the 24 hours after he announced his candidacy.

The fundraising drop-off is indicative of a larger downward trend in O’Rourke’s political prospects. He entered the race with the promise of being a rising political star with appeal across Democratic factions and a unique fundraising ability, but has struggled to gain the kind of traction that candidates like Buttigieg have achieved.

There was a similar trend in fundraising among many of the senators running in the race. 

While three of the five top-raising candidates were senators, their colleagues in the chamber did not fare as well in the cash race.

Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerHillicon Valley: High alert as new QAnon date approaches Thursday | Biden signals another reversal from Trump with national security guidance | Parler files a new case Senators question Bezos, Amazon about cameras placed in delivery vans Why do we still punish crack and powder cocaine offenses differently? MORE (D-N.J.) brought $4.5 million in the second quarter, which is slightly lower than his first-quarter fundraising haul of $5 million. Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharAlarming threat prompts early exit, underscoring security fears Raimondo has won confirmation, but the fight to restrict export technology to China continues Pentagon prevented immediate response to mob, says Guard chief MORE (D-Minn.) also experienced a fundraising drop from the first quarter. Her campaign announced on Monday that she had raked in close to $4 million in the second quarter. 

Meanwhile, Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate Dems face unity test; Tanden nomination falls Gillibrand: Cuomo allegations 'completely unacceptable' Democrats push Biden to include recurring payments in recovery package MORE (D-N.Y.) raised just $2.3 million during the second quarter, bringing her total cash on hand to $8.2 million. Gillibrand has yet to reach the 130,000-donor threshold she’ll need to qualify for the third Democratic debate in the fall. 

The New York senator trailed Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetDemocrats push Biden to include recurring payments in recovery package Democrats: Minimum wage isn't the only issue facing parliamentarian Democrats plan crackdown on rising drug costs MORE (D-Colo.), who brought in $2.8 million during the second quarter. Bennet announced his candidacy in May. 

Among current and former governors, Hickenlooper fared the worst in fundraising, bringing in $1.1 million in the second quarter. That’s roughly $1 million less than he raised in the first month of his White House campaign. 

Bullock and Inslee, meanwhile, raised roughly $2 million and $3 million, respectively.

The second-quarter hauls come just days before the candidates find out if they qualify for CNN’s Democratic debates this month in Detroit.

In order to qualify for the forum, candidates must either average more than 1 percent support in three qualified polls or have 65,000 unique donors to their respective campaigns.

For the fundraising qualification, the candidates must have at least 200 different donors per state in a minimum of 20 states. 

A handful of candidates are banking on standout performances in the second round of primary debates later this month to boost their standing in the contest. 

In fact, at least one lesser-known candidate saw a spike in fundraising after the first round of debates late last month. Nearly 40 percent of former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro’s $2.8 million haul in the second quarter came in the days after his well-received showing in that debate.

It will be ever more difficult for candidates to meet the qualifications for the third round of debates in September. 

In order to qualify, candidates much reach 2 percent support in four national or early state polls, in addition to the fundraising requirement of 130,000 unique donors and 400 unique donors across a minimum of 20 states. 

Despite the growing financial gap in the Democratic primary contest, the field doesn’t appear to be narrowing just yet. A day after Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellChina has already infiltrated America's institutions Democrats don't trust GOP on 1/6 commission: 'These people are dangerous' The Memo: New riot footage stuns Trump trial MORE (D-Calif.) became the first candidate to exit the nominating contest, another hopeful, billionaire philanthropist Tom SteyerTom SteyerGOP targets ballot initiatives after progressive wins On The Trail: The political losers of 2020 Biden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far MORE, jumped into the race.

Swalwell’s second-quarter fundraising haul offers some insight into his decision to drop out. He raised just over $878,000 in his 2 1/2-month presidential run, putting him in the lowest tier of fundraisers. 

Steyer, who only announced his campaign last week, did not have to file a second-quarter fundraising report, but is expected to inject at least $100 million of his personal fortune into his White House bid.

Updated at 7:37 a.m.