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Warren Relies on Small Donors to Raise $24.6 Million

Senator Elizabeth Warren responds to a question during a gun safety forum in Las Vegas, Nevada, Oct. 2, 2019.
Senator Elizabeth Warren responds to a question during a gun safety forum in Las Vegas, Nevada, Oct. 2, 2019.

Elizabeth Warren raised $24.6 million over the past three months, relying largely on a massive small donor operation to solidify her status as a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The Massachusetts senator's haul, announced on Friday, is just less than the $25.3 million her chief liberal rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, posted during the third quarter. But together, the fundraising numbers illustrate the financial strength of the party's most progressive wing and a rejection of more traditional approaches to pressing donors for money.

The White House hopefuls who have relied on frequent high-dollar fundraisers reported numbers that lag behind Sanders and Warren. Former Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday he raised $15.2 million during the third quarter. California Sen. Kamala Harris reported $11.6 million during the same period. Pete Buttigieg, who has combined small donors with traditional fundraisers, raised $19.1 million.

“This means our grassroots movement is in an incredible position _ to double down on our investments in grassroots organizing, to keep getting Elizabeth's plans for big, structural change in front of more caucus-goers and voters, and to bring more people into this fight,” Warren's campaign said in a statement.

Both Warren and Sanders have consistently attracted armies of small donors, many of whom contribute online. Warren's campaign said its quarterly totals came from 509,000 donors offering 943,000 donations. Her campaign has $25.7 million cash on hand.

After a sometimes rocky start to her campaign at the beginning of the year, Warren is now in a close race for first place with Biden, according to several polls of voters nationally and in key early states. She has surpassed Sanders in many of these surveys.

Warren has argued that by shunning big-dollar fundraisers and large donations, she has had more time for things like staying hours after rallies to take “selfies” with thousands of attendees. She has drawn huge crowds lately _ including Thursday night in San Diego, when the campaign estimated that 8,500 people thronged a grassy, downtown park off the Pacific Ocean to cheer her plans for a “wealth tax” on the fortunes of the richest Americans and vows to break up powerful banks and tech giants like Facebook.

The Iowa caucuses that kick off the presidential nomination process are now less than three months away meaning all campaigns are under pressure to show they can excite both donors and would-be voters and seize momentum. Warren says she's doing both.

Still, the ultimate Democratic nominee would face a formidable opponent in President Donald Trump who, in partnership with the Republican National Committee, raised $125 million during the third quarter.