July 17, 2019
Eleven Democratic presidential candidates—nearly half of the whopping field of two dozen or more who have announced that they are running—spent more campaign cash than they raised during the second quarter of the year, according to new financial disclosures filed July 15 and posted by Politico.
Indeed fortune is smiling on just a favored few—among them, Pete Buttigieg ($24.8 million raised in Q2), Joe Biden ($21.5 million), Elizabeth Warren ($19.1 million), Bernie Sanders ($18.2 million), and Kamala Harris ($12 milion).
In the second tier are, Corey Booker ($4.5 million), Amy Klobuchar ($3.9 million), and Beto O’Rourke (3.6 million).
Eight contenders active in the spring limped forward with less than $1 million in cash on hand, and several top-tier contenders were already spending multiples of what their lower-profile competitors raised, the news outlet reported.
Already, California Representative Eric Swalwell has pulled out—acknowledging the problematic math facing a lower-tier contender. Swalwell’s campaign raised just more than $880,000 in the second quarter from donors and, like many of the others at the bottom of the pack, well outspent what it raised.
“We had the money in our account to continue to try to qualify for the upcoming debate,” Swalwell told Politico. “But we believed that even if we had done that, that when we looked at the September debate, it just wouldn’t add up.”
The financial squeeze is set to drastically shrink the lineup of Democratic contenders in the coming months, barring major shifts in momentum, as candidates grapple with the doldrums of summer fundraising and the high costs of staffing national campaigns and building donor lists big enough to qualify for future Democratic National Committee debates, Politico says.
The numbers also reveal the tremendous pressure on lesser-known candidates to make a splash in the debates at the end of this month — potentially the last chance some will have to attract a burst of support as their expenses pile up.
“This is the doomsday scenario for a lot of campaigns, where they’re grasping for air to keep their campaigns alive and to live another day,” said Andrew Feldman, a Democratic strategist in Washington. “You can’t build an organization. You can’t build an operation that turns enthusiasm into votes without having resources to do it.”
Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper spent a half-million dollars more than he raised in the second quarter, finishing June with $840,000 in his campaign account, Politico said.
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro spent more than 80% of the amount he raised, despite a fundraising bounce following his highly regarded debate performance in the closing days of the fundraising period. He was left with about $1.1 million, the politico news outlet noted.
Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington, raised about $3.1 million in the second fundraising quarter; however, he reported spending $3.2 million and finished with only $1.2 million in the bank.
“Some of these candidates need a miracle,” Matthew Littman, a Democratic strategist and former Joe Biden speechwriter who now supports Kamala Harris, told Politico. “It’s like if you’re a baseball team and you’re 15 games behind in mid-July, the odds are that you’re not making it to the playoffs.”
He said, “If you don’t have the money, you’re not going to have the infrastructure. And if you don’t have the money or the infrastructure, what are you going to do to break through? At this point, it’s just very, very tough.”
Could there be a miracle? It’s doubtful. “You’re not going to see a lot of people continuing to give to a person with no money left,” Feldman said.
Research contact: @politico