In the most recent fundraising race, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) posted some impressive numbers. His campaign took in $24 million in the second quarter of 2019 from over a million individual donors. The average donation was only $18.

Bernie’s labor-focused message appears to be translating to fundraising wins for his campaign as well. The most common employer for donors was Walmart, with Amazon and the U.S. Postal Service also among the top ten.

This may also be reflective of the diminishing luster of blue-collar darling and former Vice-President Joe Biden, whose pro-labor bona fides have fallen under intense questioning in recent weeks.

While Sanders was viewed favorably after the June debates, and netted $4 million from 175,000 donors in the weekend between the debates and the second quarter filing deadline, Biden lost ten points of favorability and a major fundraiser following his debate performance.

Teachers also love Bernie, being the most common profession to contribute to his campaign. A major plank of Sanders’ education policy centers around eliminating student loan debts, but his broader education plan includes increasing accountability and transparency of charter schools, guaranteed pre-Kindergarten and childcare, and an end to high-stakes standardized testing, among other policy prescriptions.

What makes Sanders’ numbers even more impressive, however, is that Americans are skeptical of political donations in the 2020 election cycle. Fewer than a third of Americans said they were intending to donate to political campaigns in a CNBC-Acorns poll, and only 8% of respondents already had. And the few that donate tend to be far wealthier than the average Amazon or Walmart employee — the richest 0.01% accounted for 29% of political donations in 2014.

Though data suggests the rate of political contributions is on the rise, it still is a small and disproportionately wealthy portion of the electorate, meaning Sanders’ success with working Americans at an average donation of $18 is a major success connecting with a core Democratic constituency.


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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