Sanders rings in the new year with $34.5 million haul

Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont prepares to speak at the opening of a campaign field office in Nashua, New Hampshire, in June. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

Sen. Bernie Sanders raised more than $34.5 million in the final three months of 2019, a substantial fundraising haul that comes just over a month before the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.

With the end-of-year total, he is poised to again set a fundraising benchmark among the Democratic presidential primary field.

The Sanders campaign announced Thursday morning the Vermont senator brought in more than $96 million from 5 million individual contributors — a goal Sanders’ team stressed in the run-up to the fundraising deadline — since he formally entered the presidential race in February.

On average, donors gave a contribution of $18 to Sanders in 2019. The campaign says that almost 100% of its contributors have not reached the maximum legal $2,800 donation limit for the current election cycle. 

Sanders’ end-of-year total does not include an additional $12.7 million that was transferred into his presidential campaign account from his other accounts, like his Senate campaign account, according to Sanders’ team.

Sanders’ campaign, which has put an emphasis on collecting small donations from many voters, made an explicit push to reach 5 million individual donors before Jan 1. Faiz Shakir, the campaign manager, told supporters in an email that attaining this goal would be the difference between defeating or losing to President Donald Trump.

In an email on Wednesday, Sanders announced the campaign had reached its goal and asserted that it positions him well to take on Trump in the general election.

“Against Trump, I believe we will have 50 million individual contributions, at least. And at $27 a piece, that would be more than $1 billion,” Sanders wrote. 

“It’s absolutely obscene and outrageous that an election would cost that much money, but our campaign has proven we will be able to raise more than enough money to win,” he added.

VTDigger is underwritten by:

Trump raised $46 million in the final quarter of 2019, and ended the year with a total of $143 million, according to a campaign email. This number does not include money raised by the Republican National Committee or other political action groups.

Sanders’ $34.5 million for the fourth quarter is the most of any Democratic presidential primary candidates who has shared their fundraising totals to this point.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg came in the closest to Sanders, totalling $24.7 million since October and raising more than $76 million from 733,000 individuals.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who is polling around 3% nationally, also performed well in the fourth quarter, adding $16.5 million to his campaign coffers. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard raised $3.4 million before the Jan. 1 deadline, up $400,000 from her third quarter haul, according to NBC News

Frontrunner former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren are among those who have not yet released fundraising totals for the final quarter of 2019.

Ahead of the end-of-the-year deadline, Biden’s campaign was expecting to take in north of $20 million, which would be his healthiest fundraising haul since the spring. 

Warren, however, was less optimistic, telling supporters ahead of the deadline it would be “nearly impossible” for her to match $24.6 million she brought in during the third quarter.

Sanders’ fourth quarter total is $9.5 million more than he raised during the third quarter — which at the time was the most money a Democratic candidate for president had brought in during 2019.

As of Dec. 30, Sanders’ campaign had raised about $26 million and told the New York Times it was hoping for $2 million more before the end of the year. 

The campaign said Thursday it received $18 million from more than 900,000 donations in December, the single best fundraising month for Sanders to date.

Sanders has been riding a wave of good fortune since the Dec. 19 presidential debate in which he repeatedly attacked Biden and Buttigieg for taking money from billionaires, while also criticizing the former vice president for supporting free trade and approving the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

On the day of that debate, the Vermont senator received more than $1 million in donations from “tens of thousands” of people — a record fundraising day for the campaign in 2019, according to the Sanders team.

Missing out on the latest scoop? Sign up here to get a weekly email with all of VTDigger's reporting on politics. And in case you can't get enough of the Statehouse, sign up for Final Reading for a rundown on the day's news in the Legislature.


VTDigger serves a vital role in delivering news that changes the terms of many debates. Digger reporters engage us, enlighten us and offer "real eye openers" about issues of the day.

Crea Lintilhac, VJT Board Member

Kit Norton

About Kit

Kit Norton is the general assignment reporter at VTDigger. He is originally from eastern Vermont and graduated from Emerson College in 2017 with a degree in journalism. In 2016, he was a recipient of The Society of Environmental Journalists' Emerging Environmental Journalist award. Kit has worked at PRI's weekly radio environmental program, Living on Earth, and has written for the online news site Truthout.

Email: [email protected]

Reader Footnotes

Please help move our stories forward with information we can use in future articles.

Readers must submit actual first and last names and email addresses in order for notes to be approved. We are no longer requiring readers to submit user names and passwords.

We have a limit of 1,000 characters. We moderate every reader note.

Notes about other readers’ points of view will not be accepted. We will only publish notes responding to the story.

For more information, please see our guidelines. Please go to our FAQ for the full policy.

About voting: If you see voting totals jump when you vote on comments, this indicates that other readers have been voting at the same time.
VTDigger Reader Footnotes are now closed on this story.
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Recent Stories

Thanks for reporting an error with the story, "Sanders rings in the new year with $34.5 million haul"