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Fundraising face-off: How the top Democrats stack up on day one

Fundraising face-off: How the top Democrats stack up on day one
Former vice president Joe Biden pulled in a cool $6.3 million in donations after announcing his bid for the presidency in 2020. But how does Biden’s haul compare to the loot brought in by his Democratic rivals?

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The cash haul that a presidential candidate can pull in during the first 24 hours of their campaign is usually a good indicator of their momentum heading into election season, and contains a few tells about the crowds they appeal to. With a crowded field of 20 candidates hustling for the Democratic dollar, three heavy hitters have emerged.

Joe Biden

Biden’s one-day haul of $6.3 million dollars puts him in first place. According to his campaign team, 96,926 donations made up the tally, giving an average donation size of $65. However, within hours of announcing his campaign, Biden was en route to Philadelphia, where he spoke at a fundraising event in the home of Comcast executive David L. Cohen, attended by bigwigs from the health insurance industry and powerhouse law firms.

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Guests at the fundraiser were asked to cough up $2,800 to Biden’s campaign, the maximum individual contribution allowed, and the 100 or so guests who showed up obliged, giving Biden an estimated $750,000 for a 14-minute speech, the Philadelphia Enquirer reported.

Still, Biden’s candidacy seems to resonate with ordinary Americans too. The former vice president is currently polling higher than any other Democratic candidate, and according to a recent Politico poll, eight points higher than President Trump.

Beto O’Rourke

Although O’Rourke’s time in the limelight looks to be waning, the progressive Texan opened strongly last month, pulling in $6.1 million dollars in the first 24 hours. However, the sources of O’Rourke’s donations are as ambiguous as his policies, and his campaign team would only say that they came from all 50 states and territories.

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O’Rourke, who smashed fundraising records in his failed bid to unseat Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) last year, is currently polling fourth, behind Biden and Senators Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris, in the same Politico poll.

Bernie Sanders

The progressive godfather, the grassroots granddaddy, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (Independent, but running as a Democrat) managed to pull in $5.9 million in his campaign’s first 24 hours back in February. Thanks to a network of grassroots donors cultivated during his 2016 primary campaign, Sanders’ first-day fundraising was unmatched until O’Rourke and then Biden entered the race.

Also on rt.com Bernie Sanders raises $6mn on first day of campaign...and former Clinton staffer blames Russia

True to form for the self-described socialist, the majority of Sanders’ donations were small ones. Some 223,000 donors kicked in an average of $27 each, less than half of the average donation to Biden.

Sanders, too, greeted the news of Biden’s closed-doors fundraiser with disdain.

"It's a big day in the Democratic primary and we're hoping to end it strong. Not with a fundraiser in the home of a corporate lobbyist, but with an overwhelming number of individual donations in response to today's news,” read a campaign email from his team.

Sanders is currently polling second among Democrats, trailing Biden by nine points.

Who’s left?

After Sanders, there is a steep drop off in first day donations. Sen. Kamala Harris, currently polling in third, took in $1.5 million on the day after she announced her candidacy in January. The remaining 15 candidates have all had to contend with a first-day purse of less than a million dollars.

Evaluating the continued fundraising efforts of the top-name candidates can give some clues as to where their legislative priorities would lie if elected. A candidate taking donations from Silicon Valley can hardly be counted on to regulate tech monopolies, for instance. Likewise, a candidate taking money from arms manufacturers is unlikely to advocate for an end to foreign conflict.

Although Biden opened strong, the former vice president still has a lot of catching up to do. Sanders has managed to put together a war chest of $18.2 million in the first quarter of this year, putting him in the overall fundraising lead.

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