American political campaigns tend to end when a candidate can no longer raise funds to continue the fight. In the age of Super PACs, this is less true than it used to be, but money remains the mother’s milk of US politics. So, it is clearly irritating the Clinton campaign that March has ended with the Bernie Sanders campaign breaking the record for fundraising with $44 million raised in the month. She maintains a delegate lead that may be insurmountable given the propotional formulae for awarding delegates, but Mr. Sanders is not going to quit the field any time soon. This speaks to her weakness as a candidate.
The two campaigns simply raise money differently. The Clintonista supporters have written their big checks and are prevented by law from writing any more. They have given all they legally can. They may donate to a Super PAC that supports her, but that is less useful. Meanwhile, the Sanders campaign is pulling in money in small amounts from a large number of contributors. This means that they can continue to give. The result is a revenue stream that the Clinton campaign cannot match. The Sanders campaign’s $44 million comes from small donors raise online, or rather 97% of it does. They can go back to the same people and ask for more money, and April will likely bring in more than $40 million.
Clinton’s camp had not released March fundraising numbers as of Friday morning, and this is very telling. They know what the number is, and they have chosen not to release it immediately. With the Sanders number out there, it is safe to presume she didn’t pull in that much. If her team had, it would be to their benefit to put that figure out in a press release. They will likely wait until late this afternoon or early this evening to announce their number, hoping to bury it by a late Friday release. In an fundraising email Thursday night, Secretary Clinton asked for donations as small as a dollar. “Even with our delegate lead, we can’t underestimate Senator Sanders and his team,” Mrs. Clinton wrote.
This has got to be giving her old guard a bad sense of deja vu. She should be the nominee. She has ticked all the boxes on the candidate form. She’s the inevitable choice. But this other candidate, from nowhere really, keeps beating her in places she should be winning by 10-50%. The fact that they keep talking about firewalls means that they are feeling defensive despite their lead.
The difference this time around is that the black vote is solidly in her camp. The historic candidacy of Barack Obama is not a factor this time around. As a result, this journal is certain that she will prevail eventually. However, this should be over by now. She should be on a coronation march. She should not be abandoning Wisconsin to shore up her support in New York.
The excitement and fun is with Mr. Sanders, and that speaks volumes about the future of the Democratic Party. The youth are thin on the ground at Clinton campaign events. They are feeling the Bern instead. The future of the party is clearly not with the Democratic Leadership Council, Republican Lite of Clintonism. It is with people brought into the process by a self-proclaimed democratic socialist. The challenge for the Clinton campaign is to make sure that those enthusiastic kids stay in the tent. Yet, even if she is successful in keeping the party newcomers onside, they are not going to let the corporate wing of the Democratic Party prevail.
The millennial generation has been accused of a great many unpleasant things (mostly by baby-boomers — pot, kettle, black), but they have come of age at a time of economic malaise or worse. They have grown up in a nation that has been at war for most of their lives in places no one can name. They aren’t going to be content with the answers offered by those Democratic leaders who came of age when the 1980s “greed is good” ethic ruled the roost. The $44 million Sanders has pulled in during the month of March is just one datum that argues the future of the Democratic Party is on the left. That has got to be irritating.