Former Vice President Joe Biden collected $15.2 million in political donations over the last quarter, his campaign reported Thursday, a sum that places him behind Democratic rivals whom he has been leading in the polls.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders amassed $25 million and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg brought in $19.1 million over the same period despite consistently trailing Biden in national polls. Each sum pales in comparison to the $125 million raised by President Trump‘s reelection effort.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has started to challenge Biden’s front-runner status after a long and consistent climb in the polls, has not yet reported her contributions. The federal filing deadline is Oct. 15 for candidates to report contributions made between July and September, but campaigns usually release the figures earlier.
Biden’s campaign said in a statement that the $15.2 million has “put the campaign in a strong position as we enter the fall” and that it had bought $6 million in digital and television ads in early-primary states in addition to hiring 200 staffers at dozens of field offices.
But at a high-dollar fundraiser in Palo Alto on Thursday afternoon, Biden attributed the sum to launching his campaign in April, after many of his competitors.
“We haven’t raised what a lot of people have,” Biden told donors at a Greek restaurant. “We got started way later than everybody else.” Tickets for the event went for $1,500 or $2,800, and Biden thanked attendees for writing him checks.
The comparatively lower sum is particularly worrying for Biden, who has spent much of his time on the campaign trail fundraising with small groups of high-rolling donors rather than meeting with larger groups of voters who are more likely to reflect the electorate.
“Good, solid numbers, but the fact of the matter is, he’s had to spend an awful lot of time in recent weeks hustling for money to get where he is,” said Jim Manley, a Democratic strategist who is neutral in the primary race. “The more time you spend fundraising, the less time you spend on the campaign trail.”
As a contrast to Biden, Manley cited Warren, who has sworn off high-dollar fundraisers to instead spend time holding increasingly larger rallies — and then spending hours greeting voters afterward in the photo lines that have become notable a staple of her events.
“He got in a little bit late, and I don’t blame him for the need to raise money,” Manley said. But these days, he added, “voters are demanding one-on-one contact more so than they have in the past.”