Third-degree Bern: Sanders nearly matches Hillary in latest quarterly fundraising

“Don’t look back,” Satchel Paige once advised, “something may be gaining on you.” For Hillary Clinton, that something is Bernie Sanders. The FEC filings from both campaigns show that donations to Team Hillary dropped substantially in the third quarter (called the second quarter in relation to campaign filings), allowing Sanders to muscle up to near-parity:

As Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders inch closer together in the polls, so it seems do their fundraising numbers.

Clinton raised roughly $28 million in the second quarter of her presidential campaign, a Clinton campaign official familiar with Federal Election Commission filings said. This figure, while strong, is just slightly ahead of her Democratic opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who raised about $26 million during the same period, which ended Wednesday.

Sanders’ fundraising efforts were aided by a last-minute texting and email push, campaign spokesperson Michael Briggs said after the fundraising deadline had passed.

In fact, this past quarter has worked out so well for Sanders that he’s bragging about passing the million-donor mark:

In the previous quarter, Hillary raised nearly twice as much, $47.6 million. Sanders had only raised $13.6 million, a gap of $34 million and a measure of Hillary’s dominance in the race. That dominance has become a thing of the past. Team Hillary has raised about $75 million overall, but her burn rate had been 40% in July, while Sanders’ burn rate was just over half of that at 22%. Hillary did a much better job of shepherding resources in 2007, Dan Merica noted at the time. If that burn rate disparity continues, then Bernie will get more bang for the buck — and at any rate, her early fundraising hasn’t stopped Hillary from getting third-degree Berns.

Chris Cillizza reads between the lines and calls the quarter for Sanders. He also emphasizes the bad news for Team Hillary in these numbers:

Clinton held 58 fundraising events to raise her total; Sanders held seven. As of the end of September, Sanders had brought in 1.3 million total donations from 650,000 individuals since he began running. Clinton’s campaign did not release how many total donors she has. And Sanders ended September with $25 million in the bank; Clinton did not release how much money her campaign had on hand.

Read between the lines, and you get this: Sanders is drawing huge amounts of small-dollar donations via the Web. That means two important things: (1) Sanders has been able to concentrate on meeting and greeting potential voters rather than spending his time courting donors, and (2) He has been able to conserve money because he isn’t spending cash on lavish events for donors. …

Sanders, who began this campaign as an oddity, now has every vestige of a serious candidate — from crowds to organization to money. And he has the one thing that Clinton badly wants/needs: energy.

There are practical realities of Sanders’s fundraising, too. Having $25 million in the bank, and having raised $40 million, Sanders will now be able to get his message out — largely via TV ads — in at least Iowa and New Hampshire. Clinton and her aligned super PAC will still outspend Sanders on TV, but it won’t be totally lopsided or at least as lopsided as everyone, including Sanders and his team, expected.

Golly, doesn’t this all sound … familiar?

One has to wonder, too, whether that precipitous drop in donations sends a blood-in-the-water signal to other Democrats — not just Joe Biden, but also John Kerry, and perhaps people like John Hickenlooper in Colorado or Amy Klobuchar in Minnesota who aren’t yet old enough for a Soviet Politburo portrait. The Democratic bench may not be deep, but we may soon see whether it’s ambitious.