Senator Elizabeth Warren raised $24.6 million dollars in the third quarter of 2019, showing a significant increase over the $19 million she raised last quarter. The cash haul puts her just behind Senator Bernie Sanders and the $25.3 million raised during the same time frame.
Grassroots donations are fueling the largest amounts raised by candidates in the Democratic president primary campaign. According to Warren's campaign, her third quarter cash came from more than 500,000 donors who contributed 943,000 donations. Additionally, the campaign said more than 300,000 of those donors were giving to the campaign for the first time. The average donation was $26.
Warren has steadily been rising in the Democratic presidential primary race. Recent national polls by both Monmouth University and Quinnipiac University put her above former Vice President Joe Biden, who had been the top pick in previous surveys. She has also taken the lead in several early-voting state polls in Iowa and New Hampshire.
In fundraising emails throughout the quarter, Warren's campaign has highlighted her grassroots effort. "Because of you and your support, we'll be able to run this campaign the right way — that means no corporate PAC money, no private fundraisers just for people that can write big checks, and no billionaire-funded Super PACs pulling the strings behind the scenes," an email sent Wednesday read.
Warren surged ahead of candidates who have taken a more traditional approach, coupling grassroots fundraising with big-ticket fundraisers. Biden said at a fundraiser Thursday that he had raised $15 million in the third quarter. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg raised $19.1 million and California Senator Kamala Harris raised $11.6 million.
None of the Democratic presidential candidates' numbers came close to matching the fundraising of President Trump and the Republican National Committee, which raised a combined $125 million in the third quarter and have more than $156 million cash on hand.
Warren was holding a town hall in San Diego Thursday, where she was asked by reporters about the massive Republican war chest and fundraising efforts. She dismissed concerns that Democrats are falling behind.
"So there's a fundamental question about how you think democracy works in America. If you think it's going to be all about scooping up a bunch of money from rich people, and then buying a bunch of TV ads, and that's how it is someone's going to win, then, yeah, it looks like Trump's doing a lot here and the Republicans," said Warren. "I just don't think that's how democracy works anymore, and I sure don't think that's how it's going to work in 2020."
But it is also true during the primary campaign, incumbency has its advantages. While President Trump does not have any close competitors for the Republican nomination, the Democratic field remains very large, with candidates competing against each other for money to fuel their campaigns.
Though some Democratic strategists worry that a grassroots-dominant approach could be detrimental going into the general election, Warren is sticking with it, spending a lot of time in retail politics, taking time to meet voters. At her San Diego event, Warren's campaign announced she had her 70,000th selfie as the line of supporters hoping to take a picture with the candidate stretched late into the night. Warren stayed until the very last person had taken a picture with her, more than three hours after her remarks concluded.