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 BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE, Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook McEnany says Juneteenth is a very ‘meaningful’ day to Trump MORE (D-Calif.), and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegScaled-back Pride Month poses challenges for fundraising, outreach Biden hopes to pick VP by Aug. 1 It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process 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 BullockKoch-backed group launches ad campaign to support four vulnerable GOP senators Overnight Energy: US Park Police say ‘tear gas’ statements were ‘mistake’ | Trump to reopen area off New England coast for fishing | Vulnerable Republicans embrace green issues Vulnerable Republicans embrace green issues in battle to save seats MORE of Montana, Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeInslee calls on Trump to ‘stay out of Washington state’s business’ Seattle mayor responds to Trump: ‘Go back to your bunker’ Trump warns he will take back Seattle from ‘ugly Anarchists’ if local leaders don’t act MORE of Washington and John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperGun control group rolls out first round of Senate endorsements The Hill’s Campaign Report: Republicans go on attack over calls to ‘defund the police’ Hickenlooper ethics questions open him up to attack 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 John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests 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 Anthony BookerRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants Black lawmakers unveil bill to remove Confederate statues from Capitol Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk 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 KlobucharHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Democrats demand Republican leaders examine election challenges after Georgia voting chaos Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk 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 GillibrandWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Warren, Pressley introduce bill to make it a crime for police officers to deny medical care to people in custody Senate Dems press DOJ over coronavirus safety precautions in juvenile detention centers 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 BennetSome realistic solutions for income inequality Democratic senators kneel during moment of silence for George Floyd 21 senators urge Pentagon against military use to curb nationwide protests MORE (D-Colo.), who brought in $2.8 million during the second quarter. Bennet announced his candidacy in May.
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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 SwalwellNASCAR bans display of Confederate flag from events and properties Gloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California Grenell says intelligence community working to declassify Flynn-Kislyak transcripts MORE (D-Calif.) became the first candidate to exit the nominating contest, another hopeful, billionaire philanthropist Tom SteyerTom SteyerBloomberg wages war on COVID-19, but will he abandon his war on coal? Overnight Energy: 600K clean energy jobs lost during pandemic, report finds | Democrats target diseases spread by wildlife | Energy Dept. to buy 1M barrels of oil Ocasio-Cortez, Schiff team up to boost youth voter turnout 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.