Comparing first-day fundraising numbers for the presidential election requires looking at not only the total amount raised, but also the number of individual unique donors. Joe Biden’s first-day fundraising numbers may have been greater than Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke’s totals by about $400,000 and $500,000, but his number of individual donors was much lower than both Sanders’ and O’Rourke’s. In fact, Sanders’ total number of first-day unique donors is almost 2.5 times greater than Biden’s.
Joe Biden Raised $6.3 Million in the First 24 Hours with 96,926 Donors
On his first 24 hours, Biden raised $6.3 million. Daily Beast noted that this is the largest first-day tally for any 2020 candidate. In a note to supporters, Biden’s campaign announced that 97 percent of his donations were online donations for under $200 and the average donation was $41. (At this time, it’s not known if any part of Biden’s total would go toward general election funds, possibly necessitating decreasing the total later. O’Rourke had to ultimately decrease his first-day total by $300,000 that was actually for the general fund.)
A total of 96,926 people donated from between 6 a.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday to Biden’s campaign. This number includes a high-dollar fundraiser that Biden attended in Philadelphia on the day of his announcement at a Comcast executive’s home. The executive, David Cohen, is Comcast’s chief lobbyist, CBS News reported.
Guests were asked to give up to $2,800 a person to attend, which is the maximum contribution a candidate committee can receive from an individual per election, according to the FEC. Philly.com reported that the fundraiser included snacks like Mediterranean charcuterie with sliced steak. More than 100 attended and listened to a 14-minute speech by Biden. The total raised at this fundraiser has not yet been announced.
Biden’s courting of more traditional high-dollar voters has received criticism from some Democrat voters, who say the tides have turned and the focus is now on individuals rather than big money. Elizabeth Warren, for example, responded to Biden’s fundraiser by saying in an email: “Elizabeth’s time is not for sale… Even though the pressure is high, you won’t see Elizabeth resort to hopping around big cities to host swanky fundraisers with wealthy donors.”
Some sources told Heavy that Biden was hoping to raise $20 million on his first day. Whether or not that number was truly his goal, Biden was definitely worried about his fundraising numbers before he announced, Politico reported. In a phone call with top donors and supporters, Biden said:
The money’s important. We’re going to be judged by what we can do in the first 24 hours, the first week… People think Iowa and New Hampshire are the first test. It’s not. The first 24 hours. That’s the first test. Those [early states] are way down the road. We’ve got to get through this first.”
One of Biden’s fundraising calls on Tuesday was to Chris Korge, a top Democratic fundraiser. Korge said he was staying neutral for now, Politico shared.
Bernie Sanders Raised About $400,000 Less than Biden on the First Day, but Had More than Double the Unique Donors at 220,000
In just the first 10 hours of his campaign when he announced on February 19, Bernie Sanders had already raised $3.3 million. By the first 24 hours, he had raised $5.9 million, Politico reported. That $5.9 million came from more than 220,000 donors in his first day. So although Sanders raised about $400,000 less in his first day than Biden, he had more than double the donors.
Biden had 96,926 donors in his first day, which means that Sanders had more than double the number of individual donors on his first day than Biden had on day one.
Sanders’ average donation size was $27. All of the money he raised was primary money and none of it was for the general election, so he did not need to decrease his first-day total announcement after campaign finance report numbers were released. (O’Rourke had to do so by $300,000.)
Beto O’Rourke Raised About $5.8 Million from 128,000 Donors: Less than Biden, but He Had More Donors
Meanwhile, Beto O’Rourke’s early first-day fundraising numbers initially indicated he had raised more than Bernie Sanders, the Texas Tribune reported. But later adjusted numbers showed he had to decrease the total down by $300,000 from $6.1 million, leaving Sanders in the lead. So in total, O’Rourke raised about $5.8 million on his first day. That extra $300,000 taken off his total was actually earmarked for general election funds that can only be used by the person who gets the nomination, CNN reported.
O’Rourke’s total individual donors were originally reported as 128,000, but later downgraded to 112,000, which was still greater than Biden’s. O’Rourke’s average donation size was $48 (average donation is calculated based on the number of unique donations, not the number of unique donors. Some people donate more than once.) So in total, O’Rourke had almost 16,000 more individual donors than Biden on their first days.
So in summary, although Biden outraised Sanders by about $400,000 and O’Rourke by about $500,000 on his first day, Sanders had about 2.5 times more individual donors than Biden. And O’Rourke outpaced Biden in individual donors too. We may not know until the next FEC quarter whether any of Biden’s first-day funds are actually for the general election, which might require downsizing the first-day total like O’Rourke did.