The Democratic candidates’ donor bases

The New York Times has some nice graphics of the donors to the various candidates. What is clear is the Bernie Sanders has the broadest base of support that spans the entire country, rural and urban. His support is so wide that the others get obliterated so they had a second graphic without Sanders. We then see that next to him, Elizabeth Warren also has a nationwide base, while all the other candidates tend to have most of their support from their local regions.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has a huge lead over other Democratic presidential candidates in the number of individual donors they have each accumulated so far.

This is the first time since the primary race began in earnest that we can estimate how many individual donors each candidate has attracted — a key indicator of how much they are catching on with voters.

A map that includes the rest of the Democratic field without Mr. Sanders offers a picture of where the other major candidates are picking up donors. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, the other leading progressive in the race, is outpacing the rest of the field across much of the country — a sign that her strategy of relying on grass-roots donors, and refraining from holding high-dollar fund-raisers, is working.

Sanders has also raised the most money, with Pete Buttigieg second, and Elizabeth Warren third. But note that Buttigeieg, along with Kamal Harris and Joe Biden, has been getting big money donations from Wall Street bank executives while Sanders and Warren are being largely supported by small donations.


  1. consciousness razor says

    So far, at least, the Wall Street donations only seem to be in the tens of thousands, so I’d be hesitant to call that “big money”.

    The point remains that voters don’t pay different amounts on election day in the voting both. (What happens among electors in the electoral college is maybe a different story.) So, counting how much money is donated can give a misleading impression about what this means for the election and the primaries. We should be counting the number of people to learn about things like that, and that information can become confused when failing to account for some candidates getting a smaller number of larger donations (even if tens of thousands of dollars is not “big money” in your book; to me, that is very much unaffordable).
    Things also get muddled when you consider the geographic distribution. In many states, the outcome is almost certain already: “blue states” like California or “red states” like Montana for instance. Having a lead in Texas (another red state), like O’Rourke does, probably won’t amount to productive gains in the election, although it’s important to remember that TX does have many more electoral college votes than MT, where Bullock has a pretty pathetic lead…. So, on the small chance that either of those matter, it could matter a whole lot or very little.
    In contrast, Sanders’ broad base of support all over the country is definitely helpful for beating Trump. And the places where he’s somewhat behind other Dems don’t look critical to me…. You’d have to run the numbers on a bunch of semi-plausible election scenarios to be reasonably sure about that, but my first impression is that it looks like a very good picture for Sanders overall.
    As the NYT article discussed briefly, there are lots of people (and donors) in small/dense urban areas, so the spatial areas represented in a map like that can be misleading. However, the cost of living is also different in urban areas versus rural ones, so the dollar amounts don’t mean the same thing to those different groups of people. Plus, the more urbanized states tend to lean heavily to the Democrats already, so unless people are being bribed for their vote or are required to pay poll taxes or something like that, the money itself doesn’t tell you very much about the likely outcomes. (It does suggest what positions a candidate is likely to hold, were they to win, because of the type of people supporting them.) Admittedly, if some weird people do actually pay lots of attention to the ads, which are funded by all of this money, then the money can be used as a sort of flawed and indirect measure about the outcome, although it’s not as helpful as tracking people directly.
    But all that said, the maps would have been more useful (to me) if they had made the areas proportional to the number of electoral college votes, since the popular vote will sadly be ignored once again (unless by some miracle a bunch of states sign the interstate compact between now and then).

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