Just hours after the presidential campaign of Joe Biden received the news that he had finished fourth in the most recent campaign fundraising numbers, his top fundraisers and donors holed up in Philadelphia for the first donor retreat since the former vice president announced his candidacy in April.
The donor retreat, and the resulting mood among participants, was reported by The New York Times this weekend.
According to fundraising numbers from the last three months, Sen. Bernie Sanders out-raised Biden by $25.3 million to $15.2 million, followed by Warren, who raised $24.6 million, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who brought in $19.1 million.
Biden’s total haul in the past three months was about $7 million less than the previous quarter’s.
Add to that the rising poll numbers of Democratic rival Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and the relentless attacks by President Donald Trump—which include attempting to recruit foreign governments to smear Biden and his family—and Biden’s donors might have plenty to be concerned about.
“All of us realize that Joe Biden does not have the online fund-raising capability of a Warren. Warren has been doing it longer than him. Sanders has been doing it longer than him,” Dick Harpootlian, a Biden supporter from South Carolina, told the Times.
“We need him to get the nomination because he’s the one who can win,” attendee Denise Bauer, a former ambassador to Belgium, told the newspaper. “We are all going to try to raise every single dollar we can.”
As Politico pointed out, the latest fundraising reports represent “a new reality of presidential politics: the traditional, big-dollar model of funding a presidential campaign is going the way of landlines and the VCR.”
That’s a pretty appropriate comparison, given this profile of Biden and his supporters in Iowa.
“The fact that progressives combined to raise $50 million without one fundraiser is mind-boggling,” Rebecca Katz, a former adviser to Cynthia Nixon, told Politico. “And really exciting, because they showed there’s a better way to do this.”
Raising campaign funds this way also frees up more time for candidates to meet and greet voters and win over supporters. This exposure on the campaign trail is one of the reasons Warren has been able to boost her popularity lately. Sanders also has consistently polled among the top three Democratic contenders.
…[A]s the campaign accelerates this fall, Warren and Sanders are poised to compound the effect of their small donors. Unlike contributors who give the maximum amount at exclusive donor events, small-dollar contributors can re-up repeatedly.
Biden still sits atop national poll averages, although not by much, and Warren is still tracking up. Sanders has remained consistently competitive, although a medical emergency this week forced him to temporarily leave the campaign trail to recover from a recent heart attack. He has promised to participate in the Oct. 15 Democratic presidential debate.
It remains to be seen whether Trump’s attacks against Biden and his family will become problematic for the former vice president over the long-term, or rather strengthen his support among Democratic voters. We’re less than four months out from Iowa caucuses.
At this weekend’s retreat, donors heard strategy briefings and were shown PowerPoint presentations and Biden’s latest ads, according to the Times.
As to Trump’s attacks, strategist James Carville had the memorable quote: “I think Biden has been given a lifeline here,” he said. “I hope he takes it.”