Elizabeth Warren raised $6 million during her first quarter as a presidential candidate, her campaign reported Wednesday, less than some of her rivals but enough to quiet doubts about her ability to stay competitive in the chase for money.
The haul is the first sign of whether the Massachusetts senator's unique approach to fundraising is working. Unlike most of her opponents, Warren has sworn off high-dollar fundraising, relying instead solely on small donors. She's betting that such a move would free up time for grassroots outreach and allow her to campaign in line with her calls to dismantle the influence of moneyed interests.
It also lowered expectations for Warren's fundraising prowess in the packed Democratic presidential primary.
Still, Warren is one of the most recognizable names in Democratic politics and she raised less than the $7 million reported by Pete Buttigieg, the rising star mayor of South Bend, Indiana. She raised half the $12 million reported by California Sen. Kamala Harris, another relative newcomer to the national political scene. Warren also fell short of former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke's $9.1 million first-quarter haul and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' field-leading $18 million.
Warren outraised New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker's $5 million and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar's $5.2 million.
Warren amassed more than 213,000 donations from more than 135,000 donors, according to her campaign. That breadth of grassroots support is in line with the total number of donations reported by Harris and O'Rourke despite their much higher total fundraising, a fact that Warren campaign manager Roger Lau noted in announcing the fundraising figure Wednesday.
"Take a look at the number of grassroots donors — and donations — that candidates report," Lau wrote in an email to supporters. "One of the other candidates who had more or less the same number of donations raised 55% more money because of big-dollar contributions. Another candidate had just about the same number of people donate overall, but also raised twice as much money from big-dollar donors."
Warren's campaign enters the second quarter of the primary with about $11 million on hand, Lau said. That's about the same amount that Warren had left over from her 2018 Senate re-election run to transfer to her presidential bid.
But her first-quarter spending of $5.2 million was more than 80% of what she took in, while Harris' campaign has reported a "burn rate" of about 30%, ending the quarter with $9 million on hand. Part of Warren's high expenses stems from the size of her 170-person campaign staff, about half of which is in early-voting states, yet her top advisers are vowing they can keep up.
"Overall, the Warren operation has a six-figure number of people who own a piece of the campaign and an eight-figure amount of money to go execute the plan," Warren adviser Joe Rospars tweeted after the fundraising numbers were released. "So, game on."
All candidates' full first-quarter fundraising reports are due to the Federal Election Commission on Monday.
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