DES MOINES, Iowa – A look at 2019 Q1 campaign finance reporting shows that the 2020 field of Democrat presidential candidates early state fundraising is considerably less than seen at the same point in 2007 for the 2008 field.
I wanted to look at 2008 instead of 2016 for a couple of reasons. 1. Democrats won in 2008 and 2. They had a larger field at the same point in 2007 than the 2016 field had in 2015.
A comparison of individual 2020 candidate’s fundraising in early primary states to individual 2008 candidates like Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton is an apples to oranges comparison since the 2008 democratic field is considerably smaller than the 2020 field.
However, a comparison of the collective fundraising hauls in early primary states by candidates during Q1 2019 to Q1 2007 is eye-opening.
2008 candidates (Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich, and Tom Vilsack) raised $1,126,160.18 in Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina in Q1 of 2007.
The 2020 Democrat candidates (Bernie Sanders, John Delaney, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard, Andrew Yang, Jay Inslee, John Hickenlooper, Marianne Williamson, and Julian Castro) raised $439,034.22 in Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina between January 1st and March 31st of this year. At the same point, 2008 candidates raised two-and-a-half times more money than 2020 candidates in early primary states.
A couple of caveats to this: First, Clinton raised an incredible amount of money in Nevada – $317,000. Second, Vilsack, a former two-term governor of Iowa, raised $107,935 in Iowa something that will likely never be duplicated unless another Iowan runs for president. Even if you deducted these amounts from the total haul in Q1 2007, they still raised more in early primary states the 2020 candidates at the same point during the election cycle.
Some possible reasons for this:
First, this could indicate Democrat primary voters in the first four states are less enthusiastic with the current field than they were with the crop of candidates in 2007. It is too early to say that with certainty. If this trend continues one can make a stronger argument that there is an problem.
Second, more likely, some early primary state donors plan to wait to see the herd culled a bit. There are now 24 candidates competing for the Democratic nomination for president.
Third, Vice President Joe Biden did not announce his candidacy until after the first quarter. He’s leading the polls, so I suspect some Democrat donors waited for him to declare. He was not a prolific fundraiser during his 2008 campaign, but being a former two-term vice president under a President who is wildly popular with the Democratic Party surely gives him more fundraising clout this time around.
How are the candidates doing in Iowa? Here are the Iowa numbers for the first quarter that shows Sanders leads the money race in the state among Democrats. (He also leads the Democratic field nationally.)
- Bernie Sanders – $16,184.05
- Pete Buttigieg – $12,440.00
- Cory Booker – $7579.30
- Marianne Williamson – $7059.09
- Amy Klobuchar – $6703.15
- Kamala Harris – $6623.75
- Beto O’Rourke – $3760.38
- Elizabeth Warren – $3576.26
- Andrew Yang – $1328.08
- John Hickenlooper – $1000
- Tulsi Gabbard – $980.96
- Kirsten Gillibrand – $725.00
- Jay Inslee – $697.15
- Julian Castro – $0
By contrast, President Donald Trump raised $58,000 in Iowa during the first quarter, approximately $27,000 less than the entire Democratic field combined and without a serious challenger in the Iowa Caucus.