Ahead of the Iowa caucuses, 2020 Democratic candidates announce strong fourth quarter fundraising 

Several Democratic candidates for president are celebrating after the final fundraising numbers for the fourth quarter of 2019 were made public.

Sen. Bernie Sanders raised a whopping $34.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, closing out a historic year of fundraising in which he was consistently near the top of the 2020 pack. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg raised the second most in the field, bringing in $24.7 million in donations from more than 326,000 people, his campaign said.

Both candidates have been consistently strong fundraisers throughout the primary thus far, and are considered frontrunners both nationally and in early states. But also of note were the fundraising totals of candidates that lack the strong polls numbers enjoyed by Sanders and Buttigieg, particularly the fundraising of entrepreneur Andrew Yang and Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Yang, who is running on a platform centered around universal basic income, had the best fundraising quarter of his campaign, bringing in $16.5 million. The total topped his third quarter fundraising by $6.5 million and was accompanied by a glowing piece in BuzzFeed News declaring “Andrew Yang Could Win This Thing.” Klobuchar also had an impressive showing, hauling in $11.4 million, an all-time best for her campaign and a 137% increase over her third quarter fundraising numbers.

Other candidates had less encouraging fourth quarters. Sen. Elizabeth Warren saw her fundraising total decrease from her third quarter results, bringing in $3.4 million less than she did in the previous quarter. Following a last-minute fundraising push, Warren was able to raise $21.2 million. While that was more than the totals of Klobuchar and Yang, it trailed the other top-tier candidates like Sanders, Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden, who raised $22.7 million — a return to form for the former vice president following a disappointing third quarter.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard reported $6.6 million and $3.4 million in fourth quarter fundraising, respectively. Neither candidate was able to qualify for last December’s Democratic presidential debate, and both have yet to qualify for the next Democratic debate, which will be held January 14 at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

While fundraising numbers don’t necessarily show who is leading a race, they are often considered a sign of enthusiasm around certain candidates. And the fourth quarter’s results have tracked closely with candidates’ standing in the polls. Sanders, who continues to dominate other Democrats in fundraising, is second in national polls, according to RealClearPolitics’ polling average, with 19.4 percent support. Biden, who came in third in the fundraising race tops the field with 29.4 percent support. And Buttigieg, who came in second, has seen strong results in polls of early contest states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

Biden, Sanders, Yang, Klobuchar, and Booker all had their best fundraising quarters ever. And with the Iowa caucuses now only 30 days away, candidates — particularly those with rising profiles who nevertheless have yet to attain frontrunner status, like Yang or Klobuchar — will need plenty of cash on hand to pay for last minute advertising and get-out-the vote efforts. The totals for the fourth quarter put all of the frontrunners, and those in the tier directly below them, in good stead to do just that.

Trump and the Republicans won the 2019 fundraising battle

Together, these Democratic candidates raised about $142 million in the fourth quarter. On the other side of the race, President Donald Trump, the Republican National Committee, and two joint fundraising committees for the GOP pulled in a record $154 million in the the last quarter of 2019. The president will head into 2020 with nearly $200 million on hand after raising close to half a billion dollars in 2019, according to The Washington Post.

That staggering number gives Trump and Republicans a major financial advantage over Democrats. In campaign finance filings from the end of November, the Democratic National Committee reported just $83.6 million raised in the year, with $6.5 million in debt. Officials in the Trump administration say they’ve gained 600,000 new donors since the impeachment inquiry into Trump began in September.

“President Trump’s unwavering commitment to keeping his promises to the American people has propelled us to break fundraising records again this quarter,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement. “Democrats’ baseless impeachment charade has only made support for President Trump stronger.”

DNC officials have tried to tamp down concern by saying their goal is to build up support for whoever wins the party’s nomination, not outraise the RNC.

“We’re seeing unprecedented enthusiasm for the Democratic Party, with half the Democratic field alone having already outraised the sitting incumbent president by tens of millions of dollars,” Daniel Wessel, a DNC spokesman, told the Washington Post. “The DNC made smart investments that led us to victories in 2017, 2018 and 2019, and is hard at work building the infrastructure necessary to do the same in 2020.”

Some pundits have speculated that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire who is running for president as a Democrat, may intervene to even the scales whenever the 2020 race enters its final stages. Bloomberg has already spent over $100 million on advertisements for his own campaign, and in November he promised to “spend whatever it takes” to defeat Donald Trump in 2020.