Bernie Sanders spent about $50 million during the last three months of the year, burning through money faster than he raised it during the fourth quarter of 2019 — as he and his Democratic rivals readied for the first nominating contests of 2020, new filings show.
The Vermont senator started January with $18.2 million remaining in his bank account to face a slew of early state contests, according to his campaign filings with the Federal Election Commission. Around the corner: 14 Super Tuesday states in early March and with them wildly expensive advertising markets in places like California.
But Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden remain atop the Democratic field in national polling, and a win or strong finish for the Vermont senator in Monday’s Iowa caucuses could provide the momentum and fresh donor support to replenish his funds. His campaign already has touted strong fundraising performance in January, saying it raised $1.7 million during the nationally televised primary debate in mid-January.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Friday also reported spending heavily during the final months of 2019, churning through more than $33 million in the fourth quarter, after raising a little more than $21 million.
That left the Massachusetts Democrat with $13.7 million at the start of this year.
Sanders and Warren have relied on a strong base on small-dollar online donors — who can be tapped repeatedly for donations before they hit the $2,800 contribution limit — to fuel their campaign. Small-dollar donations accounted for more than half of the contributions each received during the final three months of the year, the filings show.
Sanders’ campaign is looking ahead to Super Tuesday and recently bought $2.5 million worth of ads in delegate-rich California and Texas.
Warren, who has invested heavily in her Iowa ground game, remains in the top tier in most Iowa polling, but her numbers have stalled nationally and in early-voting states. She has signaled she will keep campaigning regardless of her showing in Iowa.
“We expect this to be a long nomination fight and have built our campaign to sustain well past Super Tuesday,” Warren campaign manager Roger Lau wrote in a memo last week.
A third candidate, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, started January with far less money remaining in the bank than her rivals: slightly less than $5 million, according to her Federal Election Commission report.
Friday is the deadline for campaigns to disclose the end-of-the-year fundraising and spending. As of Friday evening, four other Democratic candidates had filed fundraising reports: billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who reported plowing $200 million of his own money into the campaign at the end of last year; former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who entered 2020 with about $1.4 million in cash on hand; Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, who reported having about $517,000 remaining in his campaign account; and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, with nearly $2.8 million.