Op-Ed: Campaign Manager: Sanders raises $1.5 mn in less than 24 hours

Posted May 3, 2015 by Megan Hamilton
It seemed like a long shot, but Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has proved otherwise — so far. Having jumped into the race for the presidency, Sanders has managed to raise more money than GOP hopefuls Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio. Who'd a-thunk it.
In their much-ballyhooed campaigns and well-orchestrated rollouts, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has raised $1.25 million, while Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) report they have each raised $1 million, The New York Post reports.
When Sanders announced his intentions to run for president, he kept it low-key and low-budget, holding a press conference at the Capitol grounds known as the Senate "swamp," and kept to a round of TV interviews. This simplicity may be the key to Sanders' success.
The Washington Post notes this is definitely a good haul, considering that few Democrats take Sanders very seriously and most generally seem to think that Hillary Clinton is going to own the nomination.
What's helped Sen. Sanders bust a move on the competition?
Answer: The Internet. Donations have come in from a wide base of supporters. An astounding 35,000 donors contributed, on average, $43.54 apiece, the Sanders campaign reports, per the Washington Post. The campaign also says it has signed up more than 100,000 supporters in what it calls a "mass movement" via its website.
"This is a remarkable start for Bernie's campaign," Sanders adviser Tad Devine said in a written statement. "People across America are yearning for authentic leadership that tells them the truth about what is holding back our nation."
Sanders is a socialist and, as such, doesn't have a wellspring of wealthy donors and corporate PACs who fund his campaigns, the Washington Post notes. In his speech on Thursday, he pointedly said he's going to take on the "billionaire class" that has a stranglehold on the U.S. political system. The seemingly endless surge in political spending — especially through super PACs fueled by round after round of endless donations -- will be the major theme of his campaign, he says.
While unlike Rubio, Cruz, and Paul, Sanders may not have fat cat donors, what he does have is an army of grassroots supporters — everyday Americans who are sick of the system, sick of the Koch brothers and want to wrest the country out of the hands of the greedy, Politicus notes.
While it's always important to keep an eye on how much money is being raised, it's also important to note how many donors a campaign has. In both the 2008 and 2012 campaigns, President Obama accumulated huge numbers of small donors and that's what made it possible for him to win. Politicus notes that the fact that Sanders has managed to outraise "the Paul money bomb machine" definitely illustrates that the media has overhyped Rand Paul's strength as a candidate, while underestimating the support behind Bernie Sanders.
If Sanders continues to be successful at raising money, he may well give Hillary Clinton a run for her money. As it stands right now, her campaign is stuffed to the gills with money, and husband Bill has recently been flying all around Africa with 20 well-heeled donors who have contributed up to $33 million to their campaigns and to the Clinton Foundation, analysis by the New York Post reports. Hillary Clinton is facing serious scrutiny about fundraising, which will keep her on her toes when it comes to screening big contributors. How all of that will play out remains to be seen.
Sanders, who opposed both Iraq wars, is running an insurgent campaign, The New York Post reports. At the very least, if he manages to keep his expenses low, he will be able to hammer Clinton on the left.
Devine says that some of Sanders' immediate support may be due to such factors as anti-Clinton sentiment.
"It's hard for me to say 100 percent of the people are there to to say they're there because they support Bernie Sanders and it's no reflection on anything else," he said. "It's very positive towards him."
It's too early to say whether Sanders can keep up the steady flow of money. He has rented out liberal email lists in order to gain fundraising cash. During the 2014 election cycle, he raised $8 million. Clinton, for her part, raised $229 million during her 2008 campaign, and was left $23 million in debt. So far, her campaign hasn't revealed how much she has raised during her first day as a candidate this year.
In launching his campaign on Thursday, Sanders had this to say, IJReview reports:
"I'm not gonna get money from the Koch brothers, and I'm not gonna get money from billionaires. I'm gonna have to raise my campaign contributions ... through small individual contributions...
I wonder now, in this day and age, whether it is possible for any candidate who is not a billionaire, or who is not beholden to the billionaire class, to be able to run a successful campaign.
And if that is the case, I want you all to recognize what a sad state of affairs that is for American democracy."
Indeed. So I'm one who's hoping Bernie Sanders can win this, because if this breaks the corporate stranglehold this country is caught in, it's something that is definitely worth fighting for.