Monday, April 4, 2016

Bernie Sanders Campaign Keeps Cash Flow Pumping

The Sanders fundraising haul is apparently unprecedented, since by now in the season a "losing" campaign would have seen its money spigot drying up.

Not so with the democratic socialist from Vermont. His backers don't believe he's losing, and if it wasn't for the rigged superdelegates, he wouldn't be.

At WSJ, "Bernie Sanders's Cash Keeps Flowing":
Sen. Bernie Sanders continues to rake in contributions for his presidential run despite remaining a clear underdog in the race for the Democratic nomination, all but ensuring his battle with Hillary Clinton will continue for months.

Mr. Sanders’s latest fundraising haul—$44 million in March—was amassed as his path to the nomination narrowed substantially, leaving him with a daunting deficit in convention delegates. Such a feat amounts to defying political gravity, campaign-finance experts say: When candidates start losing primaries, as Mr. Sanders did during the first half of the month, the flow of donations typically slows significantly.

But Mr. Sanders’s fundraising has continued apace, fueled largely by small-dollar online donors. Now, after wins in a string of Western states in late March, the Vermont senator hits April with both money and fresh momentum. He holds a narrow lead over Mrs. Clinton for Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary, according to a RealClearPolitics average of polls, and the New York primary two weeks later looms as a pivotal showdown.

The importance of the New York contest for both campaigns is evident in the haggling this past weekend over where and when the candidates might debate ahead of the April 19 vote.

Mr. Sanders’s fundraising totals have grown each month this year, hitting $21.3 million in January and $43.5 million in February. Mrs. Clinton hasn’t yet released her take from last month, but Mr. Sanders raised more than she did in January and February.

Although Mr. Sanders has won five of the past six contests, Mrs. Clinton still holds a commanding lead in delegates that her campaign argues is nearly insurmountable. Mr. Sanders now needs decisive victories in delegate-rich states such as New York, California, Pennsylvania and New Jersey to make up ground, and he may also need to convince party officials known as “superdelegates” to abandon Mrs. Clinton and support him. Absent those outcomes, Mrs. Clinton appears likely to emerge as the Democratic nominee, but Mr. Sanders could make that an expensive proposition.

Mr. Sanders “is not suffering the fate that candidates usually suffer when they’re running behind,” said Lawrence Noble, general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, a group that aims to reduce the influence of money in politics. “The narrative that it’s impossible to beat Hillary Clinton has not stopped [Sanders supporters] because I don’t think they believe it,” Mr. Noble said.

In interviews, many Sanders supporters said they were motivated by the senator’s pledges to address income inequality and overhaul the campaign-finance system, and they plan to continue lending financial support until the end. Only 3% of Mr. Sanders’s fundraising total has come from donors who have given the legal maximum of $2,700, and many backers have signed up to automatically contribute a modest sum each month.

Aislinn Melchior, a professor from Tacoma, Wash., who has made several small contributions, said of Mr. Sanders: “I am willing to do whatever I can to help out his candidacy, even if it’s doomed.”

Kenneth Pennington, digital director for the Sanders campaign, said the senator’s supporters understand that building a grass-roots movement doesn’t happen overnight.

“They’re in this fight for the long haul,” he said. “That means when we win, our supporters respond in large numbers. When we lose, our supporters step up to help us win in the long run.”