Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign announced Monday she raised $19.1 million in the second quarter of the year, more than tripling her first-quarter total despite holding no fundraisers.
The haul far exceeded expectations: Warren surpassed both Bernie Sanders ($18 million) and Kamala Harris ($12 million) and came close to Joe Biden ($21.5 milllion). Her outpacing of Sanders is particularly notable, given the army of small-dollar donors he amassed in 2016 and their similarly progressive stances.
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The eye-popping total is a validation for Warren after months of second-guessing from Washington strategists who questioned the wisdom of publicly vowing not to hold fundraisers or do “call time” with wealthy donors during the primary.
Warren and Sanders, who also has essentially spurned the fundraising circuit, have both managed to fund their campaigns and outraise rivals like Harris through donations online. They also were within range of Pete Buttigieg, who raised a pack-leading $25 million but who attended about 50 high-dollar fundraisers plus 20 other fundraisers with lower ticket prices in the second quarter.
“You’re making it possible to build a presidential campaign without catering to wealthy donors — with no closed-door fundraisers, no Super PACs, and no money from Washington lobbyists, corporate PACs, or, for that matter, PACs of any kind,” campaign manager Roger Lau wrote in an email to supporters.
The Warren campaign appears built to last. After hiring more than 300 staffers, it still has $19.7 million cash on hand, according to a campaign source. That figure suggests that the campaign dramatically reduced its “burn rate” in the second quarter, from 85 percent to 55 percent. The campaign still spent about $10.6 million last quarter, but the increase in online fundraising allowed it to add $8.5 million to its cash on hand.
Harris and Biden have declined to say how much cash on hand they have. Sanders and Buttigieg have the most with $30 million and $22.6 million, respectively, though Buttigieg’s campaign said $832,000 is earmarked for the general election. The Warren campaign source said that less than $100,000 of her cash is for the general election.
Warren started with a $10.4 million cushion transferred from her 2018 Senate reelection. That money allowed her to make expensive investments in staff early on without fear of going into the red.
The campaign has already deployed huge teams to the early states, with over 60 staffers in Iowa, over 50 in New Hampshire, and 30 each in Nevada and South Carolina. The early ramp-up in Iowa especially has left other campaigns scrambling to match her as they’ve announce dozens of their own hires over the past month.
Warren’s average donation was $28, and more than 80 percent of the 384,000 second-quarter donors — roughly 307,000 people — were first-time donors, the campaign said. Some 442,000 people have now donated to Warren’s campaign.