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Biden Has The Big Donors But Not The Big Bucks

A closer look at Biden's campaign finances points out where his weakness lies.

Joe Biden has been much maligned as a Democratic candidate, but despite the gaffes and lackluster debate performances, the former vice president has proven to be resilient. Even though rumors of Biden’s ebb have persisted as long as he has been in the race, he remains the candidate to beat in the Democratic field, but a closer look at his campaign finances points out where his weakness lies.

Third-quarter fundraising data shows Biden running a distant fourth in campaign contributions. Bernie Sanders had the largest haul with $25.3 million followed closely by Elizabeth Warren with $24.6 million. Pete Buttigieg placed third in the money race with $19.1 million, trailed by Biden with $15.2 million. In all, the top 12 Democrats hauled in $128.5 million. By way of comparison, Donald Trump and the RNC raised $125 million over the same time period.

Disturbingly for the Biden campaign, the vice president’s third-quarter fundraising was down from $21.5 million in the second quarter. In contrast with the other leading candidates, Biden benefitted from Democratic big-money donors who previously supported Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Politico reported that Biden earned $20.7 million from contributions of at least $500. This was more than $1.5 million more than his nearest competitor. However, Biden’s big-money advantage was still not enough to overcome the small donors who gave to his rivals.

In the third quarter, 96 percent of Biden’s contributions came in amounts less than $200 with an average donation of $44. In contrast, Bernie Sanders received $10 million more with an average amount of $18. Elizabeth Warren’s average donation was $26 while Pete Buttigieg received an average of $32 from his donors. Even a quick look at the math reveals that more people are giving to Sanders, Warren, and Buttigieg than to Biden.

Yet despite the fundraising slump and months of predictions of doom, Joe Biden still sits atop the Democratic primary polls. Why would that be?

The answer is probably what I’ve been saying for months, namely that Biden is benefitting from a scenario similar to the situation that allowed Donald Trump to best 16 other Republicans for the nomination in 2016. Most of the Democrats are competing for a share of the woke, progressive Democratic base while Biden commands the largest part of the smaller share of moderate Democrats.

The progressive wing of the Democrats is more engaged and willing to send in contributions, giving the other candidates a fundraising edge, but Biden still commands the largest number of voters. Money matters but votes are what really count. The question is whether Biden can maintain his advantage in voters.

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