I like Bernie Sanders. I’ve been hooked since he decided to make a speech at Liberty University to thousands of young conservatives. Who does that? A candidate that is about as left as you can get decides he’s going to go speak to a bunch of righties to see if they can find some common ground. Bernie’s got balls. They might be old and saggy, but he’s got them. If the Democratic primary was today, I’d vote for Bernie Sanders. Go ahead and call me a socialist if you must. I don’t care. I’m not totally convinced that his plans for America are 100% practical given the current political climate, but Bernie’s dream for our country is the kind an idealistic type of utopia that I can get behind.
When Sanders announced his candidacy, nobody gave him a shot in hell to emerge as the Democratic nominee. Who could blame them? Taking on the Clinton dynasty is no easy task even with unlimited funding from a rich backer. Sanders does not have the privilege of rich supporters to fund his campaign. It goes against his entire campaign. Instead, he asks for small contributions from normal folks like you and me. So far, it’s working and although Hillary’s camp may not be sweating Bernie yet this has to force them to raise their eyebrows.
In the recently wrapped up third quarter, Sanders received $26 million in contributions, $2 million of which came in yesterday just before the quarterly disclosure deadline according to campaign spokesman, Michael Briggs. Clinton’s third quarter contributions totaled more than $28 million. The surprisingly small difference between money raised unquestionably gives Sanders’ camp a much-needed boost in the right direction and some assurance that Bernie can make a race out of this thing.
Sanders’ success in gathering small amounts of donations evidences his grassroots movement that appears to be drawing in a frustrated voting public. Last night, Sanders reached 1 million online contributions, rocketing him past the pace of President Obama’s 2008 campaign that didn’t surpass the 1 million mark until February.
Clinton boasts about the amount of small donations she has received thus far, but she has also held big-dollar fundraisers – a route that Sanders has not (and likely will not) traveled down. “This deadline is an opportunity to send a powerful message to the political media and the super PACs attacking us about the strength of our campaign,” the campaign told supporters on Facebook.
Additionally, money is flying out the door of the two campaigns at staggeringly different rates. During the second quarter, Clinton’s operating expenses were $18.2 million compared with Bernie’s $2.9 million. However, Sanders’ campaign is growing rapidly and his estimated expenses for this quarter are at $15 million, leaving him with an $11 million net gain.
To be clear, Hillary is still the favorite and she has held a lot more fundraisers than Sanders. A minor problem for her, though, is that many of her donors have already given the maximum $2,700 to her campaign. Therefore, to keep her pace steady, she may eventually be forced to find new donors, while Sanders can simply go back to the well and ask his donors who have already given to give some more. I wager that his donors will be happy to oblige with more donations if he continues to keep up with Clinton.
Bernie has proven that he can raise enough money the hard way to sustain the infrastructure of his campaign. His next challenge will be finding a way to stay competitive over the air waves when the race really heats up. Super PACs supporting Hillary have already banked tens of millions of dollars. While the grassroots nature of Bernie’s campaign has been his biggest strength thus far, it may prove to be his Achilles heel in the end.
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