Joe Biden raises $21.5 million in the first leg of his 2020 presidential campaign

Biden's fundraising haul falls short of Buttigieg's $25M — yet Sanders still had far more donors in the same span

By Shira Tarlo

Published July 3, 2019 6:58PM (EDT)

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden (Getty/Sean Rayford)
Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden (Getty/Sean Rayford)

Joe Biden has raised $21.5 million since entering the 2020 Democratic presidential race in late April, his campaign announced in an email to supporters on Wednesday.

The former vice president received 436,000 donations from 256,000 donors, bringing the average donation to $49, the campaign said. Biden's team also said 97% of donations were under $200. His campaign did not reveal how much cash it had on hand at the end of the quarter.

Biden's fundraising haul falls just short of the nearly $25 million collected by South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg over the past three months, from around 400,000 donors. Buttigieg, the breakout insurgent star of the 2020 Democratic presidential, has proven to be a talented fundraiser. His eye-popping second quarter haul solidified his explosive evolution from a relatively unknown candidate to a national political figure since entering the presidential race in April.

Though Biden did jump into the race until several weeks into the quarter, he had the advantage of beginning his campaign with near-universal name recognition and an extensive financial network, which he cultivated throughout his nearly five decades in public office as vice president and as a U.S. senator.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is Biden's closet rival in national polls of the 2020 race, raised $18 million in the second quarter of the year, but his fundraising haul was powered by 1 million contributions — more than double Biden's total. The average donation to the Independent senator's campaign was $18 — a figure that Sanders is likely to tout on the campaign trail given the growing emphasis on small-donor donations in Democratic politics.

"While other candidates court big money at fancy fundraisers, this campaign is supported by teachers, retail workers and nurses who are putting what little money they have behind the one candidate who can bring about the transformative change this country needs," said Sanders' campaign manager Faiz Shakir, a clear jab at Biden and Buttigieg's fundraising efforts, which often feature catering and admission tickets with a price tag of as high as $2,800, the maximum allowable individual campaign donation.

Despite the number of contributions to Sanders' campaign, Biden continues to hold a significant lead in national polls of the 2020 race — though his support has dropped since May.

The news of Biden's latest drop comes after Sen. Kamala Harris of California confronted Biden over the issue of race at the Democratic primary debate last week.

Harris took aim at Biden over his civil rights record, as well as remarks the former vice president made last month about his "civil" working relationship with segregationist senators in the 1970s.

The freshman senator also criticized Biden's past opposition to a federal busing policy that provided transportation for black students to local schools attended by mostly white students before describing the experience of "a little girl in California" who traveled across districts as part of the second class of students bused to integrate the public schools in her county.

"And that little girl was me. So I will tell you that on this subject, it cannot be an intellectual debate among Democrats. We have to take it seriously. We have to act swiftly," Harris said.

Biden has labeled Harris' attacks as a "mischaracterization" of his views and said he was previously opposed to "busing ordered by the Department of Education” rather than busing itself. His campaign also called the senator's attacks a "low blow."

The exchange between Harris and Biden was seen a breakthrough moment for the California Democrat, who has received a surge of support and donations in the wake of her debate performance.

Harris's support from black Democratic voters — a historically strong voting bloc for the former vice president — also increased dramatically following her debate performance, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday. The survey, conducted between July 28 to July 1, found Biden's support among black Democratic voters halved from 48 percent to 31 percent since the university's June poll. Harris, meanwhile, saw her support among black Democratic voters grow to 27% from 11% in last month's survey.

Shira Tarlo

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