Bernie Sanders is seeing a major post-debate boost, with a surge in donations that has netted him more than $3 million in just a few days and set him up for what political experts say could be a long battle for the Democratic nomination.
Sanders has been steadily building his support in the past few months, growing from a fringe candidate into now what is considered a major threat to Hillary Clinton. Now he has the fundraising to add, nearly matching Clinton’s total over the last three months.
The Sanders campaign reported more than $3 million in the days after the first presidential debate and noted that Sanders is doing it with a grassroots approach.
“Other campaigns are bankrolled by big donors who have given so much even under our current corrupt political system they can’t legally give any more,” campaign manager Jeff Weaver said. “Bernie’s big base of small donors may give again and again. What is clear now is that this campaign to transform America will have the resources to fight all the way to the convention.”
Sanders has now raised a total of $26.1 million in the last three months, McClatchy DC reported. Clinton, who has the benefit of some very deep-pocketed backers and a fundraising machine built over the course of several decades, reported $28 million during the same period to go along with $33 million already in reserve.
Bernie Sanders have been copying a template that Barack Obama used in his race against Hillary Clinton in 2008. Like Sanders, Obama lacked a political machine to match the Clintons and instead focused on bringing in a large number of smaller donations. Sanders has done the same, with more than 1.3 million total donations and only about 270 of his 68,000 donors giving the maximum $2,700.
That strategy bodes well for the long-term, the Huffington Post noted, which seems to show that Sanders is prepared for a long battle when the primaries start in January.
“The amazing number of small donors means that Sanders’ fundraising will more than likely maintain its pace,” the report noted. “The senator raised more than $27 million in the third quarter. According to the campaign, the average donation was $30.”
Sanders is embracing the approach, painting himself as a candidate of the people and not beholden to special interests with big money.
“Right now there are many pundits who believe that the only way a candidate can run a successful campaign is to have a super PAC, get down on one’s knees before the millionaires and billionaires — beg them for money,” Sanders said at a fundraising event in Los Angeles this week (via CNN). “And what we are showing is we can run a people-oriented campaign funded by the people.”
There could be even more of a boost when more post-debate poll numbers come out. Though many pundits say Clinton came out on top in the first debate, internet polls and instant viewer responses pointed to a resounding victory for Bernie Sanders. He has already cut into Clinton’s lead (helping contribute to a 10 percentage-point drop in support over the course of four days) and will likely gain more ground in the coming days as the debate boost works its way into current totals.
There are still some big obstacles for Bernie Sanders to overcome. His coalition of supporters is still relatively light on independents, a demographic he will need to cut into if he is to defeat Hillary Clinton in the primary. Clinton also holds a lead among minority voters.
But pundits note that the strategy of reaching smaller donors appears to be paying off for Bernie Sanders, and his support is growing steadily. Whether that holds up come January remains to be seen.
[Image via Instagram/Bernie Sanders]