Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s second quarter fundraising was massive: The presidential candidate raised $19.1 million in a three-month period, a stark contrast from the first quarter of the year when she raised just over $6 million.
The details in the report Warren’s campaign filed with the Federal Election Commission late Monday offer something of a roadmap of where Warren’s cash came from, how she spent the money and what might have helped drive the senator’s fundraising success.
Her total haul is particularly noteworthy given that the Massachusetts Democrat has declined to hold any high-dollar fundraisers or solicit wealthy donors this year. She outraised — by about $1 million — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the other candidate in the 2020 field who is currently pursuing a grassroots-only fundraising strategy.
The most recent quarter showed that Warren’s bet on a small-dollar fundraising strategy is working for now, allowing her to compete with some of her rivals, like former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who have aggressively courted wealthy donors.
The clues below only offer a snapshot of Warren’s fundraising because the FEC only requires campaigns to itemize contributions larger than $200. The Warren campaign itemized about $6.4 million of the more than $19 million raised in the second quarter because the great bulk of the donations she pulled in — more than $12 million — came in amounts of $200 or less.
Still, the spikes in itemized donations may tell us when and why her smaller-dollar donations surged.
When Warren called for impeachment proceedings against Trump in April, there was a fundraising spike
Warren made waves in April when she came out as the first major Democratic presidential candidate to call for impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, after the release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report. While the announcement drew praise from pro-impeachment voters, the move was also seen as politically risky. Warren’s FEC report shows that it resulted in a spike in fundraising.
Consider that in the week leading up to that Friday in April, Warren raised an average of around $24,000 per day (again, this is only taking into account the itemized donations that are greater than $200 — a fraction of Warren’s total fundraising and therefore an incomplete picture).
On the Friday that Warren called for impeachment proceedings, she raised almost $94,000 in a single day from donations greater than $200. The next day, she pulled in more than $105,000.
Other money-raking days: Student loan debt cancellation plan, first Democratic debate
The following are some other strong fundraising days for Warren, and our best guess as to what could have contributed to the cash influx on those days (another reminder that the following daily hauls only represent donations that were more than $200):
- April 22: $114,000 — Warren releases major student loan debt cancellation plan and participates in CNN town hall
- May 28 and 29: $116,000 and $109,000 — Reproductive rights was already making national headlines, and Warren had already released a plan to protect access to abortion earlier in the month. On May 28, she tweeted about the potential closure of Missouri’s last abortion clinic
- May 31: $106,000 — The day before, Warren appeared on “The View,” where she unveiled a universal childcare calculator
- June 26: $157,000 — Warren made a last-minute decision to visit the Homestead migrant detention facility in South Florida, hours before she took the stage at the first Democratic debate.
- June 27: $166,000 — Day after her debate appearance
Overall, Warren had her strongest fundraising stretch of the quarter in the final week ahead of the second quarter deadline.
Warren spent millions on staff, online ads
Warren spent $2.6 million on staff salaries alone in the second quarter — a sizable chunk of the $10.6 million she spent over those three months. That’s almost as much as what Julian Castro raised in the entire quarter and doesn’t even account for the additional $1.2 million in payroll taxes.
Her campaign previously told CNN that they now have more than 300 campaign staff, with some 60% of them in the four early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.
Warren has one of the biggest payrolls among all the candidates in the giant Democratic field — both a sign of her early robust organizing, but also a reminder of how costly paying those staffers will continue to be.
In the first six months of the year, Warren’s campaign also spent more than $2.9 million on Facebook and Google ads.
Celebrities wrote big checks for Warren
As in past presidential elections, Hollywood celebrities are opening up their wallets for the Democratic candidates who hope to take on President Donald Trump next year. These are some of the A-listers in the entertainment industry who gave to Warren in the second quarter:
- Amy Schumer (actor): $5,600 (Schumer maxed out her contributions for both the primary and the general election)
- Scarlett Johansson (actor): $2,800
- Jeffrey Katzenberg (media executive): $2,800
- Bette Midler (actor): $2,800
- Shonda Rhimes (producer): $2,800
Warren has a whole lot of money to spend
Heading into the summer months — often a period of slower political fundraising — Warren has some $19.8 million cash on hand.
That war chest is only rivaled by the $27 million Sanders has in his coffers, and Buttigieg’s $22.7 million cash on hand. For both Warren and Sanders, the money they were able to transfer over from existing accounts has proven to be hugely helpful: Warren transferred over more than $10 million from her Senate campaign account in the first quarter, while Sanders transferred over around $6 million from previous campaign accounts in the second quarter.