Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

by Lady Michelle Jennifer Santos

18 December 2015 (TSR) – The Bernie Sanders U.S. Presidential campaign has accomplished something that no other non-incumbent presidential campaign from any political party has ever done. Bernie Sanders individual donors have made more than 2 million contributions so far in 2015. That trend is expected to continue and will surpass Barack Obama’s record by year’s end.

“Over 2 million contributions have been made to the only campaign that rejects a corrupt campaign finance system,” Sanders says in a television and Internet advertisement entitled People Power. “You can’t level the playing field with Wall Street banks and billionaires by taking their money,” Sanders adds in the new message.

More than $3 million was raised since an online push was launched on Monday to top 2 million donations. Of that total, about $1.6 million has been raised since Wednesday alone.

The average donation to Sanders this week has been about $20 as many of the more than 800,000 donors were showing their financial support for a second or third time. Just 261 Sanders backers have given the maximum allowable contribution of $2,700, accounting for a mere 1.7 percent of his campaign’s total reported money raised. That’s a sharp contrast to Hillary Clinton’s 17,575 maxed-out donors, whose donations accounted for almost 62 percent of her money raised, according to Federal Election Commission records for the first three quarters of this year.

Bernie Sanders is raising a lot of money from individual donors for his presidential bid, and he’s doing it even faster than President Obama did during both of his campaigns according to US media reports.

Even when Obama was running unopposed in 2012, he did not reach that number as quickly as Sanders, according to Anthony Corrado, a campaign finance expert and professor at Colby College.

“[Sanders] has reached a million [donors] faster than Obama did in either 2008 or 2012 elections,” he told ThinkProgress. “His pool of donors is sizable — yesterday, in one day, they raised $2 million.”

In addition, according to the Washington Post, Clinton’s campaign has raised $75.1 million in total, not to mention the additional $17.1 million raised by the Super PAC supporting her. Sanders, by contrast, has raised $41 million in total and does not have a Super PAC.

The key difference, though, is that nearly all of Sanders’ money is coming from individual donors, while Clinton is relying more on bigger, corporate donations. That’s advantageous for Sanders in a few ways, Corrado said.

“By having so many small donors, [Sanders] is creating the potential for a recurring stream of revenue, so he can go back to these donors again and again as the campaign goes on,” he said. “That can often leads to some of these small donors becoming rather large donors.”

Small donors becoming large donors was “key” to Obama’s fundraising success during his first campaign, he added. “In 2008, there were 13,000 donors who began as small donors who eventually gave a total of $1,000 or more, either because they set up a monthly contribution on a credit card, or gave three, four, five times over the course of the campaign.”

In addition, Corrado said a sustainably large base of small donors means Sanders can spend more time at events where he actually gets to talk to supporters and build that base, instead of spending time at closed-door fundraising events like Clinton may have to. Indeed, the Washington Post reported, Clinton has held 58 fundraising events to achieve her total this quarter, while Sanders held only seven.

What’s also remarkable about Sanders’ fundraising effort is his unorthodox approach to fundraising: “Do as little of it as possible,” as Politico bluntly puts. “I don’t have a super PAC,” he said in June, referring to the committees that can accept unlimited amounts of cash from corporations, unions, and individuals to support a campaign — so long as the committee doesn’t directly coordinate with the candidate.

“I don’t want money from the billionaires. And that’s the way we’re going to run our campaign,” Sanders declared.

That approach has made some progressives wary that Sanders could wage a successful campaign. But as long as he keeps getting positive reviews on the campaign trail, Corrado said he thinks Sanders’ fundraising will grow, the reports said.

The Sanders campaign have the money they need to keep this going and he’s now positioned where he could very well have raised more than $50 million by the end of the year, maybe even have much as $70 million, and therefore have the money they need to do what they want to do according to Corrado.

Meanwhile, Clinton’s campaign is on track to raise $100 million by the end of the year — and that’s not even including the two Super PACs supporting her, Priorities USA Action and Correct The Record.

“She’s going to have a lot of money, which will be supplemented by the Super PAC,” Corrado said. “But the crowds and enthusiasm seen on [Sanders’] campaign trail is translating, not simply into expressions of support, but into money for his campaign, and therefore she is going to face an opponent who is going to be much stronger financially than they anticipated.”

Sanders has been raising the bulk of his money in small donations — 71 percent of his donations were $200 or less in the third quarter. Clinton, on the other hand, has relied on larger donors — 74 percent of contributions to her campaign were $1,000 or more, according to numbers from the Campaign Finance Institute.

Unlike Clinton’s donors, Sanders campaign donors are not maxed out ready to repeatedly give.

Sanders walks the walk too.

When Pharma CEO Martin Shkreli, who infamously jacked up the price of an AIDS medication and now arrested on Thursday for Ponzi scheme, donated to the Sanders campaign, Sanders flat out rejected his money. However, rather than returning it to Shkreli, Sanders donated its entirety to an HIV clinic.

Sen. Sanders is going to have a stable and steady source of fundraising through the Democratic primary campaign and after it. The key test remains whether or not the campaign can translate their loyal donor base into an expanded pool of new Democratic voters that can win a primary.

In a statement, Sen. Sanders said, “What our vision of a political revolution has already accomplished is to show that we can run a strong and we believe winning campaign without a super PAC, without contributions from millionaires and billionaires. We are enormously proud that we have received more individual contributions at this point in the campaign than any candidate who is not an incumbent president. As the campaign continues to succeed, we expect those numbers to grow exponentially.”

Sanders said in the above ad, “Over 2 million contributions have been made to the only campaign that rejects a corrupt campaign finance system. You can’t level the playing field with Wall Street banks and billionaires by taking their money,” Sanders adds in the new message.”

The Sanders campaign announced that a new online push that began on Monday has raised $3 million, with $1.6 million raised since Wednesday. The average donation is $20, and more than 800,000 donors have donated for a second or third time. Only 1.7% of Sanders donors have maxed out and hit the contribution limit. Most impressively, Sanders trails only President Obama 2.2 million donations by the end of 2011 for the overall record.

Clinton continues to hold large leads in national polls — but national polling won’t determine the way forward in the campaign’s immediate future. It’s the early states that matter, and right now the two early contests — Iowa and New Hampshire — are a split decision.

The Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics’ latest Iowa Poll, conducted Dec. 7-10 by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines showed both Clinton and Sanders were strong candidates with much that appeals to the state’s liberal Democratic base.  Clinton has an 82 percent rating and Sanders has an 80 percent rating. Obama has an 87 percent rating—which reveals Iowa Democrats are fairly liberal.

The Iowa Poll is based on telephone interviews with 400 registered Iowa voters who say they definitely or probably will attend the 2016 Republican caucuses and 404 registered voters who say they definitely or probably will attend the 2016 Democratic caucuses.

Interviewers contacted 2,635 randomly selected active voters from the Iowa secretary of state’s voter registration list by telephone. Responses were adjusted by age, sex, and congressional district to reflect all active voters in the voter registration list.

The margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
Overall, Clinton has the support of 49 percent of Caucus-goers compared to 39 percent for Sanders. Only 4 percent back Martin O’Malley.

The new Iowa Poll continues to show that Clinton does better with older Democrats and Sanders does better with younger ones. Clinton draws support from 64 percent of those 65 or older, while Sanders draws support from 58 percent of those younger than 45.

Clinton also leads by sizable margins with women (54 percent to 35 percent) and the highest income group, earning $100,000 or more (55 percent to 30 percent).

Sanders has an edge with self-identified liberals (48 percent to 44 percent), the small group of independents (51 percent to 26 percent) and a group pollster J. Ann Selzer calls the “nones,” those who have no religious preference (55 percent to 36 percent).

Where the poll gets more intriguing is identifying their relative strengths and weaknesses. Sanders is stronger that Clinton on: “will do the most to rein in the power of Wall Street” (57 percent); “will fight the hardest for the middle class” (56 percent); “is most honest and trustworthy” (52 percent); and “cares most about people like you” (49 percent). His theme of “breaking up the large Wall Street banks” remains very popular, backed by 78 percent. Another 62 percent backed Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran; 61 percent support legalizing marijuana; and 53 percent support “a single-payer health care plan.”

Clinton is stronger than Sanders on: “can best combat Islamic terrorism” (60 percent); “has most appropriate life experience to be president” (60 percent); “would be best at dealing with Vladimir Putin” (56 percent); “knows most about how to get things done” (56 percent); would make best commander in chief (55 percent); “would be best at managing the economy” (51 percent); “has best temperament to be president” (49 percent); “would work most effectively with Congress” (45 percent); and “has best stance on gun control” (36 percent).

Other Sanders campaign themes, such as raising the top income tax rate to more than 50 percent, did not have majority support. Only 43 percent liked that idea. Only 34 percent opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement and more recent Pacific rim deal. On the other hand, only 23 percent agreed with the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, which Clinton voted for as a U.S. senator from New York.


After Iowa, the contest moves on to New Hampshire, but it won’t end there. The Clinton campaign sees a firewall in the South, where black voters are key. The Clintons have deep ties to the black community and Sanders is less known.

CNN/WMUR poll that showed Sanders leading in New Hampshire by 10 points — 50 percent to 40 percent over Clinton.

Sanders is working on strategy now and hopes a win in New Hampshire can be a springboard.

Sanders now leads Clinton in New Hampshire by 5 percent according to Alternet. Pollsters at the University of New Hampshire said in a policy brief issued Monday that the state’s Democrats were very similar to those in Iowa with “liberals outnumbering moderates/conservatives. … Given these data, one could speculate that for Democrats, a victory in Iowa for either Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton could give the winner a boost in New Hampshire.”

Sanders was accused party leaders on Friday of trying to undermine his White House bid and boost rival Hillary Clinton after his campaign was disciplined for accessing Clinton’s voter files.

The breach occurred for a brief period on Wednesday Sanders staffers were able to view confidential information from the DNC, the organization said.

A person familiar with the matter told CNN that Josh Uretsky, the Sanders campaign’s national data director, was fired for accessing the voter data.

“In this case it looks like they are trying to help the Clinton campaign,” Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said at a news conference, accusing the DNC of taking the Sanders campaign “hostage.”

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz defended the punishment against Sanders in a CNN interview, saying his campaign had acted in an “inappropriate, unacceptable” manner and had downloaded information.

Weaver said he was running a clean campaign.

Liberals sympathetic to Sanders were outraged by the DNC’s response to the breach, in line with their concerns that the DNC has made decisions aimed at helping Clinton become the nominee, such as staging fewer debates and holding them on weekends when fewer people will be watching, Reuters reported.

An op-ed said that Bernie Sanders will become president, despite rigged debate schedules, skewed polls, and Clinton’s ‘inevitability’ because today’s public relations spin won’t work, especially since you’re reading this online and Americans spend around 2 hours per day on social networking sites.
The impressive fundraising by the Sanders campaign without using a super PAC or dark money demonstrates that motivated small donors can compete with the corrupt campaign finance system. Sen. Sanders is the political underdog of them all and yet, is rising to the top like an ugly duckling story of the year. The Senator from Vermont was largely ignored by the national media while he spent years building a popular grassroots movement on the left.

In a nutshell, Bernie Sanders campaign has been a raging success, as Sanders has launched a political revolution that changing the national political conversation on issues that matter to millions of ordinary Americans.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders now has greater control of the internet than Barack Obama in either of his campaigns. We all know what history told us back then.


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