If campaign donations are a barometer of political support, the Democratic presidential campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden might be having even more trouble than his declining poll numbers indicate.
After being the Democratic front-runner for months, Biden is now in a virtual statistical dead heat with Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, the Real Clear Politics average of polls shows. The polling average shows Warren supported by 26.6 percent of those polled and Biden with 26.4 percent support.
In the third quarter, which ended Sept. 30, Sanders raised $25.3 million, Warren $24.6 million, Buttigieg $19.2 million and Biden $15.2 million.
In the second quarter, Biden pulled in $22 million while Buttigieg was at $24.8 million, Warren was at $19.1 million and Sanders at $18 million.
“It’s not great if your numbers are less than the other candidates’, especially if you’re the front-runner. It’s not good. At the end, it really is about money, for better or worse,” said Tom Cochran, a partner at the public affairs firm 720 Strategies.
“The type of big donors that might give to Joe Biden only invest in sure things,” he said. “Biden’s nomination looked like a sure thing back in the spring when he got into the race with a 25 percent lead, so he raised a lot of money. Now his nomination is a crapshoot after flubs on the campaign trail, poor debate performances and the big surge by Elizabeth Warren.”
“Big-money people who might favor Biden are investors, not gamblers or zealots, so the money is drying up,” Bannon said.
The Examiner, citing a source it called a “Democratic campaign fundraising tech service provider,” said Biden’s approach to raising money could be at the root of his troubles.
The 76-year-old former vice president has relied to date on fundraising events at which donors can give up to $2,800 — the maximum amount an individual can give to a single candidate.
Email and social media — which are used extensively by other candidates — have not been a major part of the Biden campaign to date, and the source offered a possible reason.
“Biden was just a vice president. He had this job for eight years that built a public profile but didn’t build an email list that went with it,” the source said. “So they were basically starting from scratch when he announced for president. …
“He just lined up all these donors that were going to give him the maximum amount, and they had that all lined up well in advance of him announcing. The problem is that so many of those people gave him the max, they can’t give him more money.
“Things are not looking up for Biden.”
Matt Fuehrmeyer of the public affairs firm Summers Strategies told the Examiner that grassroots contributors are important for the money and also the show of support they represent.
“Those small-dollar donors are important not just for the money they can bring in on multiple occasions, but those are individual humans who have skin in the game for your campaign. They’re potential volunteers on the ground, they’re potential canvassers or people making phone calls,” Fuehrmeyer said.
“To a teacher in Iowa, $100 a month means a heck of a lot more out of their wallet than a $2,800 check from some CEO. Campaigns cash both checks because all that money spends the same and they value all of the donors that they get, but those small-dollar donors are more than just dollar signs to campaigns,” he said.
Fuehrmeyer said campaigns have to set priorities over which group to target.
“The extent to which you concentrate on one or the other is a choice that you have to make as a campaign based on where the money is. It’s the same reason you rob banks,” he said.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.