small donors

The fundraising windfall scored by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) following his performance in the debates in Detroit continues — $2 million in as many days, mostly from small donors.

Wednesday, the Sanders campaign reported $1 million at an average donation of $14 per person. Now, the campaign has reported a second day of intense fundraising has brought those totals up to $2 million from 100,000 donors in all 50 states and Puerto Rico — an average donation of $20. That average matches his overall performance earlier in the campaign.

Sanders did perform exceptionally well in Detroit and had a clap-back to being told he had no way of knowing what form Medicare for All coverage would take with, “I wrote the damn bill!” The campaign was quick to realize the resonance of that statement, and put out associated merchandise.

The campaign was quick to compare their small-donor successes to other fundraising news about the actions of mega-donors. Prior to the Detroit debates, Democratic financier Tom McInerney left behind his support for former Vice President Joe Biden and opened his wallet to Senator Kamala Harris (D-California). McInerney helped the Obama campaign raise massive amounts of money in the past. In response to this news, Tim Tagaris broke the news of a $2.70 donation from an Iowa donor.

The small donor race is about more than progressive street cred; it shows a real commitment on the part of the campaign’s grassroots supporters. Particularly as fewer Americans are willing to give small-dollar donations to political campaigns. While not all small donations come from small donors and, in truth, the top 0.01% of wealthy Americans accounted for nearly 30% of all political contributions in 2014, Sanders’ campaign tends to draw its donations from people like postal workers and Amazon employees.

With the campaign’s performance over the past two days, it has nearly met the fundraising requirements for the September debates in under 48 hours. To qualify for September, campaigns must raise money from 130,000 unique donors with at least 400 donors each in 20 different states, and poll above 2% in four polls before August 20. Sanders is one of only seven candidates to already qualify.

While few campaigns have released post-debate fundraising information as of this reporting, Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) announced receiving 10,000 donations following his debate performance Wednesday.

(Featured image: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)


Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.

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