Warren fundraising drops to $21.2M in fourth quarter despite last-minute push

It marks almost a 14 percent dip from her third-quarter fundraising haul

Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign announced Friday that it raised $21.2 million in the fourth quarter, substantially less than progressive rival Bernie Sanders’ astonishing $34.5 million haul.

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The Massachusetts Democrat’s drop in fundraising — during the third quarter, she brought in $24.6 million, the second-highest amount in the 2020 Democratic primary — is the latest signifier that her campaign is losing momentum, an occurrence that’s seemingly tied to the release of her sweeping, $20 trillion Medicare-for-all proposal.

Warren, who like Sanders rejects traditional big-money fundraisers, also raised slightly less in the last three months of 2019 than moderates South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg ($24.7 million) and former Vice President Joe Biden ($22.7 million), both of whom accepted big-dollar donations.

In total, Warren’s campaign raised $71 million last year from nearly one million donors for an average contribution of $23, she wrote on Twitter. Sanders, comparatively, raised $96 million in 2019 through five million donations, for an average contribution of $18, his campaign said.

“I'm so deeply grateful for everyone supporting our campaign. Team Warren is ready to dream big, fight hard, and win!” Warren wrote on Twitter.

Anticipating a fundraising dip, Warren’s campaign last week tried to lower expectations: Just days before the fundraising deadline, Warren’s campaign sounded the alarm to supporters that she’d raised just $17 million, asking them to chip in “$2 or whatever you can” to reach a $20 million goal.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Asked on Thursday about her rivals' fundraising hauls, Warren told reporters she was “very, very grateful for everyone who’s contributed to my campaign.”

“I didn't spend one single minute selling access to my time to millionaires and billionaires,” she said. “I did this grassroots all across the country. And I'm proud of the grassroots army that we've built.”

In recent debates, Warren has contrasted her own strategy to that of Biden and Buttigieg, criticizing the candidates for accepting big-money donations — a message that resonates with the core of her candidacy: The rich and powerful have rigged the system in their favor.

The long-simmering debate over big money in politics erupted during the sixth Democratic debate in Los Angeles last week when Warren went after Buttigieg for holding a fundraiser in a so-called wine cave in Napa Valley that was “full of crystals and served $900-a-bottle wine.”

“We made the decision many years ago that rich people in smoke-filled rooms would not pick the next president of the United States,” Warren said.

The RealClearPolitics voting averages show Buttigieg leading in Iowa, and Sanders first in New Hampshire, the second state to vote in the nominating process. Overall, Biden, Sanders and Warren are the top three nationally.

Biden, Buttigieg, Sanders and Warren did not report their cash-on-hand amounts, and will not be required to do so until Jan. 31, just days before the Iowa caucuses that kick off the primary process.