Looking At The 2020 Democratic Fundraising Numbers

The numbers are in and there's good news for some candidates and bad news for a lot of the others.

Yesterday was the deadline for candidates for President and other offices to file their quarterly fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission. In some case, of course,we already knew the numbers that would be reported since the campaigns had already released them. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, for example, came in first place in this election cycle, having raised a healthy $24.8 million. Coming in second place was former Vice-President Biden, who raised an impressive $21.5 million despite the fact that he was not in the race for the first three weeks of the quarter. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren was in third place with $19 million, most of it from small donors. Just behind Warren is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who raised roughly $18 million. Finally, California Senator Kamala Harris came in fourth place at roughly $12 million. The rest of the candidates, well, let’s just say their numbers were not quite as spectacular:

  • New Jersey Cory Booker: $4.5 million
  • Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar: $3.87 million
  • Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke: $3.6 million
  • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee: About $3 million
  • Former Housing and Urban Development secretary Julián Castro: $2.8 million
  • Businessman Andrew Yang, $2.8 million
  • Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, $2.8 million
  • New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, $2.3 million
  • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock: $2 million
  • Author and spiritual adviser Marianne Williamson: $1.5 million
  • Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton: $1.2 million
  • Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper: $1.1 million
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio: Nearly $1.1 million
  • Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan: $876,000
  • Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney: $284,476 (Doesn’t include five loans, totaling $7.75 million that Delaney made to his campaign in May and June.)

These numbers are particularly disappointing for O’Rourke and Booker, both of whom raised less in the second quarter than they had in the first quarter notwithstanding the fact that they were in the race for the entire three months between April 1st and June 30th. This could be an indication that in addition to falling in the polls over the past three months these candidates have not only lost support in the polls but they’ve also lost donors, something that will be hard to get back unless they start performing better in the polls. Of further concern to all of the candidates listed above is that the reports they filed indicate that they were spending money almost as fast as it came in:

Low-polling Democratic presidential hopefuls drew in far less cash in the past three months than their more prominent rivals and spent almost all the money they raised trying to jump-start their campaigns — a precarious sign for their ability to survive a lengthy primary fight.

Twelve Democratic candidates spent more than 80 percent of the money they raised in the second quarter, according to new federal filings made public Monday night. The vast majority of them registered at 1 percent or less in the latest national polls.

Their lackluster fundraising and heavy spending highlight a growing gap between the candidates at the top of the polls and the rest of the hopefuls, portending a difficult third quarter that could winnow the field.

The Democratic presidential hopefuls now face greater pressure to ramp up their fundraising in the notoriously challenging summer months of July and August, and greater stakes for their performances at the second Democratic primary debate at the end of this month.

The Federal Election Commission filings released Monday reflect the campaigns’ fundraising from April 1 through June 30. Those with big hauls reported their figures before Monday’s filing deadline.


Among them: Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey raised $4.6 million and spent $5.2 million; Washington Gov. Jay Inslee raised $3 million and spent $3.25 million; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York raised $2.3 million and spent $4.2 million; former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper raised $1.15 million and spent $1.6 million; self-help guru Marianne Williamson raised and spent $1.5 million; Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio raised $889,264 and spent $541,111.

Obviously, this trend cannot continue. Either these campaigns will have to find a way to raise more money, or they’ll have to find ways to spend less money. If they don’t then they’re likely to be faced with a choice between paying campaign bills and continuing on with what increasingly look as if they are at best quixotic bids for the Presidency that won’t be long for this world.

These fundraising numbers are of increased importance in this election cycle since they form part of the criteria that the Democratic National Committee is using to determine debate eligibility. While the eligibility for the first debate last month and the second at the end of this month have been relatively lax in terms of both polling performance and fundraising, that will change significantly starting with the third debate in September. After that point, many of these candidates will find themselves locked out of future debates which likely means that they will begin to fade into irrelevance.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. michael reynolds says:

    Trump’s own fund-raising looks rather less impressive when you realize the Democratic field has raised far more collectively. And these are not incumbent presidents. All but one of these people is going to lose, and yet the money pours in.

  2. Gustopher says:

    And numbers for Gabbard:

    According to the records, Gabbard raised more than $1.56 million from April 1 to June 30 while spending nearly $1.9 million. In the first quarter of 2019, Gabbard’s campaign reported raising $1.95 million.

    She is also sliding backwards. I’m ok with that.

    I’m inclined to say that everyone at or below Yang should just find a new hobby. With the possible exception of Bullock, as his campaign hasn’t been going for the full quarter. It’s a free country and all, and there’s always a chance of a miracle I guess, but if you can’t do better than a novelty act you should be pondering if you’re in the right gig.

  3. grumpy realist says:

    @Gustopher: As I’ve suggested before, most of these individuals would do better taking up a less expensive hobby, like knitting….

  4. michael reynolds says:

    Bullock needs to get his ass back to Montana and run for the Senate seat. If he did that and won he’d be a hero and could run for POTUS four or eight years later, he’s just 53, eight years from now he’d be 61, a child by electoral standards.

  5. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Wow! I didn’t know that enough people had even heard of Jay Inslee to provide enough name recognition to produce 3 million in contributions.

  6. Jen says:

    Finally, California Senator Kamala Harris came in fourth place at roughly $12 million.

    She came in fifth place on that list, I believe…

    John Delaney has been here in New Hampshire I don’t know how many times. He’s even sent direct mail pieces that weren’t for fundraising. He must be absolutely loaded, because I think he’d get more press if he just set fire to a big pile of cash, rather than spending it like this.

    It’s still early, but honestly I think Democrats will be in better shape if it’s down to 4 or 5 by the end of the year. The size of the Republican field in the last election and the fracturing of the vote was not a good thing.

    Also, Mark Sanford is considering running against Trump for the primary. He’ll get beat, of course, but it will be interesting to see how Trump responds.

  7. Sleeping Dog says:

    Got our first Tom Steyer direct mail piece yesterday. I believe the message is, vote for me, I’m the tall, good looking rich guy who wears starched and pressed denim shirts with khakis. No idea if he was wearing boat shoes in the picture.

    Please, everyone below Booker drop out.

    And repugs gave Marianne Williamson a cool $1.5M to keep her in the race.

  8. Gustopher says:

    @michael reynolds: He has plenty of time to do that. By mid-September, he should have a clear idea that his presidential run is going nowhere, but that he gave it a g0.

    He got a late start, so I can cut him some slack. Hickenlooper should have his website’s graphic designer start replacing “President” with “Senate” though.

    @Sleeping Dog: Why draw the line at Booker? Why not Klobachar? Both seem unlikely, but plausible.

    Until you hit Yang, they all seem unlikely but plausible. Anyone who has had a good chance to try, and can’t beat the novelty candidate… they might be lovely people, with a lot to offer our country, but it’s not their year.

    Ok, Insley doesn’t seem plausible either, but he’s not a novelty candidate. As a resident of Washington State, I can assure you there is nothing novelty about him. At all. Really dull.

  9. Sleeping Dog says:

    No reason other than Booker is over $4M and Klobachar is under that. The $4M was a random choice.