Clinton Fundraising Drops 41 Percent in 3rd Quarter

Clinton Fundraising Drops 41 Percent in 3rd Quarter
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Hillary Clinton raised 41 percent less in total contributions for her primary campaign in the past three months than the $47.5 million she raked in after launching her White House bid. The gulf, while not unexpected, suggests that donors have been attuned to the Democratic frontrunner’s email controversy, dipping poll numbers, spirited competition from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and the potential that Vice President Joe Biden could enter the race.

Clinton raised more than $28 million in the third quarter of the year, closely shadowed by $25.7 million Sanders reported raising from July through September. The quest for the Democratic nomination has escalated, and Sanders’ contributors and volunteer-fueled campaign organization suggest he will have sufficient tools to compete through early contests, and perhaps beyond.

Candidates from both parties will report details of their fundraising to the Federal Election Commission by mid-October, but at least three revealed select details before a midnight deadline Wednesday.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley continued seeking contributions all day Wednesday, but offered no advance estimates. Instead, he championed campaign finance reforms and applauded the political importance of small contributions.

"I’m not naïve: campaign resources are important,” O’Malley wrote in an op-ed. “But the staggering figures required to run for the highest office in the land aren’t as much a sign of muscle as they are an indication just how broken our democracy is.”

Clinton’s team has argued that her fundraising prowess, combined with a sophisticated organization to get voters to the polls and lock up Democratic delegates, will be essential to besting the Democratic field, which also includes former Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb. Biden says he is weighing a third bid for the presidency, but has not committed to a specific timeline regarding a decision.

The first Democratic presidential debate is scheduled Oct. 13 in Nevada.

In a written statement, Clinton Campaign Manager Robby Mook said, “We are thrilled and grateful for the support of hundreds of thousands of donors across the country, helping us raise a record $75 million in the first two quarters.”

An unidentified campaign aide, in a quote distributed to media on background, said Clinton remains “on track to hit her goal of raising $100 million in primary money for the year. … The Clinton campaign is hitting its goals and executing its plan to build an organization that can win in the long term.”

Earlier in the day, Sanders reported surpassing his target of 1 million donors by the end of the third quarter, surpassing a campaign benchmark Barack Obama did not set until February 2008. On the stump, Sanders celebrates his grassroots national support and eschews financial backing from super PACs, denouncing the influence of “millionaires and billionaires.” His average donation is small enough to permit supporters to contribute multiple times without maxing out the cycle’s $2,700 ceiling. In that way, he can expand his reach and also return again and again to a donor base. His campaign raised $15.2 million in the second quarter, and has yet to spend money on TV ads.

Clinton leads Sanders in Iowa by more than five percentage points, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average, while Sanders outpaces Clinton in New Hampshire by almost 12 points.

The former New York senator has spent at least $4.1 million on TV ads in those two states to emphasize her biography and personal attributes. Her campaign, rather than her independent super PAC boosters, paid for those ads. Her campaign has also invested heavily in ground operations aimed at securing the nomination early in 2016.

Among GOP presidential candidates, Dr. Ben Carson, No. 2 behind frontrunner Donald Trump in recent polls, reported Wednesday raising more than $20 million in the third quarter, more than double the $8.5 million he raised in the second quarter, plus $1 million he raised in the first quarter. Carson, who has quietly attracted conservative and evangelical admirers after months of campaigning and in the wake of two GOP debates, has spent less than half a million dollars on TV ads, according to data compiled by SMG Delta and reported by NBC News.

To tout economic diversity among Clinton’s supporters, her team said 93 percent of the $28 million raised from July through September came from contributions of $100 or less (the rest came from thousands of wealthy individuals who are capped at giving $2,700). Emphasizing Clinton’s appeal among women, a key demographic, her Brooklyn-based spokesmen said more than 60 percent of her donors are female.

Opponents will dissect Clinton’s FEC report later this month to gauge the rate at which she spends what she collects. At the end of July, she reported spending 40 percent of what she brought in that quarter, while Sanders spent 20 percent during the same period.

O’Malley reported raising $2 million in the second quarter, and spent $700,000.

Alexis Simendinger covers the White House for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at asimendinger@realclearpolitics.com.  Follow her on Twitter @ASimendinger.

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