Bernie Sanders has run one of the most historic presidential campaigns in modern history. Last year, when he came out of the blue to announce his candidacy for the Democratic nomination, he was a virtually unknown senator from a tiny state. As the spring and summer progressed, though, the unlikely hero of 2016 grew in popularity by leaps and bounds.
By summer, he was attracting thousands of people to his campaign rallies. Little by little, his grassroots fundraising built up a war chest of millions of dollars, and by the end of January, Sanders himself was boasting that his campaign was financed by more than three million individual donations averaging $27 a piece.
With about a dozen contests left before the convention in July, Sanders has now released his latest numbers. In a press release, Sanders has announced that his campaign has raised $26 million in April, and has raised a total of $210 million for his entire campaign.
His campaign has also received more than 7.4 million individual donations. Many of those small donors are repeat givers, who have vowed to propel Sanders to the convention with multiple donations spread out at different times.
April was actually not one of his best months, with donations down by 40 percent, but his total for the month was still higher than Hillary Clinton’s, whose campaign generated only $21 million for March.
Speculation arose when the New York Times reported that Sanders was planning to lay off hundreds of workers on his campaign staff to focus on the remaining contests. Yet, from the start, Sanders has said he is not dropping out, regardless of establishment Democrats asking him to do so. As late as Sunday morning, he has suggested the likelihood of a contested convention in July.
With 40 states behind him, and with critical states with large delegate counts coming up (here’s looking at you, California), it makes sense for Sanders to reduce and streamline his staff to better focus on the road ahead: that of getting through the primaries with enough delegates for a contested convention in July.
Paradoxically, Sanders is the candidate with the youngest ideas, yet he is the oldest. His message has not wavered in the nearly 40 years he has served in the public sphere. Throughout 1990s and early 2000s, his populist message of “by the people, for the people” was largely ignored. But, he continued to trudge on, warning his colleagues of the growing discontent of a shrinking middle class and a growing income disparity among the haves and the have-nots.
His consistency and passion for what he believes in has made Sanders the most appealing candidate of younger voters, who see him as the only one who can steer our country from economic and environmental disaster. His message resonates; therefore, supporters enthusiastically send him their donations.
Dr. Sally J. Goerner, The Capital Institute’s science advisor and director of Research Alliance for Regenerative Economics, discusses the phenomenon of both the Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump campaigns. She describes how pundits dismiss or look on in bewilderment at anti-establishment candidates like Sanders and Trump, and how they fail to understand that both of these men are a sign that the United States is an oligarchy on the brink of “civilization-threatening collapse.”
“In the final stages [of oligarchy collapse], a raft of upstart leaders emerge, some honest and some fascistic, all seeking to channel pent-up frustration towards their chosen ends. If we are lucky, the public will mobilize behind honest leaders and effective reforms. If we are unlucky, either the establishment will continue to ‘respond ineffectively’ until our economy collapses, or a fascist will take over…”
The Sanders campaign highlighted the large number of donations, citing his appeal to the young voters.
“Sanders is the candidate with the most energy and excitement. He is the candidate with the best chance of winning in November. He is the candidate who is in the best position to bring a new generation of voters into the democratic process and restore the faith of working-class voters that we can have a government that works for all of us, not just the 1 percent.”
The New York Times reports that of the millions of donations Sanders has received, nearly half of those are from people between the ages of 18 and 39, further evidencing his likability among younger voters.
Bernie Sanders’ ground-breaking primary campaign is setting a precedent for other grassroots candidates. His prolific fundraising generating $210 million in donations from individual donors in a primary race is practically unprecedented. If he can keep up the momentum, he will likely win enough delegates to take him to a contested convention in July.
[Photo by John Minchillo/AP Images]