I wasn’t expecting too many real surprises out of the quarterly fundraising numbers for the various presidential campaigns and if you only look at the top line results, there really weren’t many. Fiorina’s numbers were disappointingly low, but that’s not so much “shocking” as sad. Hillary’s direct contributions are well on the way to her first billion which was also not much of an eye opener. But as I glanced through the rest of the bullet items in NBC’s First Read this morning, there was one thing which jumped out at me.
With the July 15 reporting deadline coming up next week, here is what the CAMPAIGNS have raised so far in the second quarter.
Hillary Clinton campaign: $45 million
Bernie Sanders campaign: $15 million
Jeb Bush: $11.4 million
Ben Carson: $10.5 million
Ted Cruz campaign: $10 million
Carly Fiorina: $1.4 million
If we look at just the Republican vs Republican numbers, Jeb is in the lead. Among Democrats, Hillary is way out in front. But stop and look at the second place numbers again. Are my eyes deceiving me? Did Bernie Sanders actually raise more than Jeb Bush?
Before you jump up out of your chairs about how unfair this comparison is… yes. I know there are many other factors in play. Some of these people have been “officially” in the race and raising money longer than others. Jeb didn’t declare until June 15 while Bernie kicked things off on April 30th, so he’s had two months to run up his total compared to Jeb’s two weeks. (Hillary has officially been in nearly as long as Bernie, so there’s another marker.)
But still, I can’t drag my eyes away from that figure. Bernie Sanders raised $15M.
Of course, NBC News specified (in ALL CAPS) that this was must money raised by the CAMPAIGNS and is sort of blowing straight past that to include how much the Super PACs for each candidate raised as well.
Right to Rise (Jeb Bush): $103 million
Keep the Promise groups (Ted Cruz): an estimated $37 million
Priorities USA (Hillary Clinton): $15.6 million
American Bridge (Hillary Clinton): $7.7 million
American Bridge 501c4 (Hillary): $1 million
Conservative Solutions PAC (Rubio): $16 million
Conservative Solutions Project 501c4 (Rubio): $15.8 million
CARLY for America (Fiorina): $3.4 million
But when we take these numbers as the baseline the game gets opened up to a second set of questions. We’re all supposed to pretend that the PAC money is completely outside the control of the campaigns, that they can’t coordinate, and the only real money that counts is what the campaigns raise for themselves, right? I mean, if we’re tossing that assumption out the window then why do we still bother with the farce of having campaign finance limits? So in this pretend world where unicorns run free and ride around in hybrid cars powered by rainbows, Bernie is still doing remarkably well for himself, assuming he can keep up a head of steam.
But can he? I’m seeing more and more worry warts who are saying that Bernie has had a good run, but he’s about to hit a wall. (New York Times.)
Mr. Sanders surged as he consolidated the liberal voters who represent the natural opposition to Mrs. Clinton. A socialist senator from Vermont, he was always well positioned to be the vehicle of their skepticism of Mrs. Clinton’s policies on Wall Street and foreign intervention.
But he is unlikely to beat her by a wide margin among liberal voters. Even in 2008, Mr. Obama defeated Mrs. Clinton among liberal voters by just one percentage point nationwide. He lost liberals by one point in New Hampshire, and won them by 13 points in Iowa.
Mr. Sanders is nearing those tallies. On average, polls in Iowa and New Hampshire over the last month show Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders tied among self-identified liberals. Last week, a Quinnipiac poll in Iowa showed him leading Mrs. Clinton among “very liberal” voters, 47 to 43 percent.
All true enough I suppose. I’ve never once said that Sanders stood a chance of winning. For my money, I really couldn’t care less how far he makes it. The only real interest we need to have in Bernie is if he can last long enough and strong enough to push Hillary into some traps that she’ll have a hard time explaining on the general election debate stage.
And for that… $15M might go along ways. You go, Bernie. Run long and run hard, my friend.