The last of the first-quarter campaign finance reports were made public Monday, providing the most complete picture of who’s ahead and who’s behind in the presidential money race among declared candidates.
Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSanders town hall audience cheers after Fox News host asks if they’d support ‘Medicare for All’ Sanders defends against criticism over income, taxes Sanders on whether he’s too old to be president: ‘Follow me around the campaign trail’ MORE (I-Vt.) leads the pack on the Democratic side with a massive $18.2 million haul. But even that sum pales in comparison to the $30 million President TrumpDonald John Trump2020 Dem hits back at Trump for giving ‘firefighting advice’ to Paris: ‘Do your own damn job’ French officials reject Trump suggestion to use ‘flying water tankers’ on Notre Dame fire Overnight Energy: Interior watchdog opens investigation into new secretary | Warren unveils 2020 plan to stop drilling on public lands | Justices reject case challenging state nuclear subsidies | Court orders EPA to re-evaluate Obama pollution rule MORE brought in from January through March.
And while it’s still early in the election cycle – the Iowa caucuses are almost 10 months away – the fundraising numbers are an indication of each contender’s strength and longevity in what’s expected to be an expensive race.
Here are some of the winners and losers from the first quarter of 2019.
WINNERSSouth Bend Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegMaddow and Buttigieg discuss their coming out stories Buttigieg says he hopes he and his husband have children Sanders on whether he’s too old to be president: ‘Follow me around the campaign trail’ MORE (D)The South Bend, Ind., mayor’s transformation from a relative unknown on the national stage to a political force to be reckoned with was solidified in his $7 million first-quarter haul.
While several other Democratic hopefuls outraised him, his fundraising total was seen as a sign of momentum for a candidate who entered the presidential race as a newcomer to national politics.
Buttigieg spent only about $685,000 in the first quarter and ended March with $6.4 million in the bank, giving him a burn rate of less than 10 percent – a sign that he’s bringing in crucial campaign cash a lot faster than he’s spending it.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)Sanders topped the growing Democratic field, raking in more than $18 million in the roughly six weeks that followed his mid-February campaign launch.
With an average donation size of $20, and roughly 900,000 individual contributors, the Vermont senator showed he has an edge among grassroots donors.
His campaign spent just over 27 percent of the money it took in – a relatively low burn rate for a candidate with proven fundraising abilities. He ended the quarter with almost $15.7 million in the bank.
President TrumpTrump’s campaign committee received more than $30 million in the first three months of 2019, leaving him with a massive $40 million war chest more than a year-and-a-half before Election Day.
Incumbency is a potent fundraising tool for presidents, and Trump started to take in money for his re-election campaign earlier than his White House predecessors.
But the first-quarter haul nevertheless signals Trump has the support of his base. Almost 99 percent of donations received were for $200 or less, his campaign said on Monday.
Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSanders town hall audience cheers after Fox News host asks if they’d support ‘Medicare for All’ Dems, Trump harden 2020 battle lines on Tax Day O’Rourke releases 10 years of tax returns MORE (D-Calif.)Harris came in second place among Democrats in dollars raised, bringing in a solid $12 million.
She also had a relatively low burn rate, spending about 36 percent of what she took in.
Harris finished March with nearly $9 million in the bank, suggesting her fundraising ability will be enough to keep her campaign afloat well into the 2020 primary season, which begins in February.
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas)O’Rourke jumped into the presidential race late in the first quarter, giving his campaign little more than two weeks to wow political observers with a large fundraising tally. Ultimately, he pulled it off, posting a $9.4 million sum in just 18 days.
What’s more, O’Rourke burned through only 27 percent of the cash he took in, putting him on par with Sanders and leaving his campaign with roughly $6.8 million in the bank.
LOSERSSen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSanders town hall audience cheers after Fox News host asks if they’d support ‘Medicare for All’ Sanders defends against criticism over income, taxes Overnight Energy: Interior watchdog opens investigation into new secretary | Warren unveils 2020 plan to stop drilling on public lands | Justices reject case challenging state nuclear subsidies | Court orders EPA to re-evaluate Obama pollution rule MORE (D-Mass.)Warren has positioned herself as a leader among Democrats in campaign finance purity, swearing off not just corporate political action committee money but all PAC money, as well as high-dollar fundraisers.
She raised about $6 million in the first quarter, despite her sweeping national profile and the fact that she had the full three months of the first quarter to fundraise, as opposed to others who jumped into the race mid-quarter.
But more ominous than her fundraising total is her campaign’s spending. Of the roughly $6 million she brought in, she spent $5.2 million. That’s a burn rate of more than 80 percent – among the highest of any candidate in the race.
Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandO’Rourke releases 10 years of tax returns Swalwell stakes campaign on gun violence Bernie Sanders releases 10 years of tax returns MORE (D-N.Y.)Gillibrand brought in just under $3 million, the smallest first-quarter haul of any sitting senator in the 2020 presidential race.
In a memo obtained by The New York Times this week, Gillibrand’s campaign suggested that one reason for the senator’s low fundraising total may be due to backlash over her calls in 2017 for former Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenElection analyst says Gillibrand doesn’t have ‘horsepower to go the full distance’ Gillibrand campaign links low fundraising to Al Franken backlash: memo White men leading in Dem polls raises issue of double standard MORE (D-Minn.) to resign amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
But there are other warning signs for Gillibrand: Her campaign burned through roughly 80 percent of the contributions it took in, giving her one of the highest spending rates of any 2020 hopeful.
Former Rep. John DelaneyJohn Kevin DelaneySanders sets bar for 2020 Dems with ‘Medicare for all’ rollout House members running for president in 2020 face uphill battle, says analyst Rep. Tim Ryan announces presidential run MORE (D-Md.)The former congressman from Maryland has been open about the fact that he intends to self-fund much of his 2020 presidential bid. His first-quarter fundraising report made that plan even clearer.
Delaney, who announced his presidential bid in July 2017, loaned his campaign $11.7 million in the first three months of 2019. But he received less than $435,000 in outside contributions, the smallest amount of any candidate in the race.
While Delaney’s vast personal wealth means he is unlikely to run out of campaign cash any time soon, the small total from donors is likely to be interpreted as a sign that Delaney isn’t gaining any momentum.