Washington (CNN)Money isn’t determinative in presidential politics. But it sure as heck helps!
The two Democratic candidates seemingly most pleased with their performances — Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg — have released their numbers. And impressive numbers they are! More than $25 million raised for Sanders and more than $19 million for Buttigieg. Sanders has now raised more than $71 million in 2019 alone; Buttigieg has brought in more than $51 million.
Late Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Kamala Harris of California released her number: $11.6 million raised this quarter. That total placed her smack-dab between the financial front-runners and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s $6 million. Booker had announced his fundraising total Tuesday morning after a very high-profile push to collect $1.7 million in the final days of the quarter. The Harris number isn’t outstanding, but considering that she struggled mightily in polling over the past few months, it’s enough to keep the vultures away from her doors.
It’s hard to imagine anyone — other than maybe Elizabeth Warren and/or Joe Biden — outpacing Sanders and Buttigieg in this quarter. If either does raise upward of $25 million, it will be a major boost for their candidacies — especially Biden’s, as it continues to labor somewhat under the notion that he is a very weak front-runner. Of course, if Warren (not likely) or Biden (more likely) raises less than Buttigieg, they will have to deal with the “small-town mayor outraises top-tier candidate” storyline. Which is not good.
While Harris was under the most scrutiny among the “second five” fighting for the nomination, people like Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas have a lot riding on this fundraising period, too.
O’Rourke had raised nearly $14 million in the race through June 30, but the bulk of that came within his first two weeks as a candidate, back in the spring. While his candidacy has been revived — somewhat — by his seizure of the gun issue, it remains to be seen whether that will be reflected in his fundraising. As for Klobuchar — almost $13 million raised through June 30 — she has been steady but not spectacular. Did the consistency of her first two quarters continue? Or is she running out of steam?
A final word for those who criticize the emphasis on fundraising as a key metric in a presidential primary race: The essence of distinguishing yourself in such a crowded primary field is demonstrating support. What better way to show committed support than with people who believe so strongly in you they are willing to dip into their own pockets to help you continue in the campaign?
The Point: Money matters.