Amy Klobuchar was one of many Democratic presidential candidates quickly depleting their bank accounts ahead of the primary contests.
The Minnesota senator was spending money faster than she could raise it in January, leaving her with a little more than $2.8 million headed into caucus and primary season, new campaign finance reports show. But she wasn’t the only one cashing in at a rapid pace.
All of the candidates except billionaires Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer spent more than they took in last month.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren ended January with the least cash on hand among the top candidates, with just $2.3 million. She had to take out a $3 million line of credit to fund her campaign. Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden were also trailing financial front-runners Sen. Bernie Sanders and the two billionaires. Buttigieg spent more than twice as much as he raised and ended January with $6.6 million, while Biden had $7.1 million left.
The high burn rates at that point in the race are not unusual, said Ken Goldstein, a professor of politics at the University of San Francisco.
“They are betting on those early contests, and it doesn’t make sense to save anything,” he said. “Don’t worry about March; worry about February first.”
That bet was somewhat squandered by the messy Iowa caucuses outcome, which was difficult for candidates to capitalize on.
Nonetheless, Buttigieg did report a $2.7 million bounce after claiming victory in Iowa. And though the latest campaign finance reports only tell the story through Jan. 31, strong debate showings since then have proved lucrative for some candidates. Warren reported raising more than $2.8 million the day of the Nevada debate. Klobuchar’s performance in the New Hampshire debate helped her net third in the state’s primary.
“Thanks to Amy’s debate performances and tireless campaigning, we have raised more than $12 million since the New Hampshire debate and are in a strong position to compete on Super Tuesday,” campaign manager Justin Buoen said in a statement.
Candidates are trying to drum up financial support ahead of the mad dash over the next week and a half, when the field will be narrowed as voters take their pick in Nevada, South Carolina and the 14 states and one U.S. territory that will participate in Super Tuesday.
Buttigieg recently set a goal of raising $13 million by Super Tuesday, and Klobuchar announced Friday that she will hold a fundraiser in Minneapolis on Saturday evening. Her campaign has said it has staff members in every Super Tuesday state, as well as 25 people in South Carolina. This week, Klobuchar announced a seven-figure ad buy in seven of the Super Tuesday states.
Meanwhile, Sanders, Bloomberg and Steyer continue to financially outpace their opponents. Sanders raised $25 million in January and ended the month with nearly $17 million on hand, while Steyer had slightly more than that left. Bloomberg spent $263.7 million on his campaign in January alone — hundreds of millions more than any other candidate — and ended the month with $55 million in his account.
Other entities have been spending on candidates’ behalf. A newly created “Kitchen Table Conversations PAC” reported paying nearly $1.3 million for TV ads and digital advertising in support of Klobuchar just this week. Of that, $930,100 was spent in South Carolina and the rest in Nevada.
For the Democratic candidates who are not self-funding their campaigns and don’t have Sanders’ war chest, a lot is riding on the two remaining early voting states.
“All of the other candidates are hoping for good finishes that will get them some public attention and a fundraising bounce” ahead of Super Tuesday, said Anthony Corrado, a professor of government at Colby College in Waterville, Maine.
There has been relatively little super PAC funding involved in the primaries thus far, he said. In the 2016 Republican contest, groups had raised and spent substantially more ahead of the Iowa caucuses, Corrado said. Now PACs are trying to quickly emerge and raise enough money to help their candidates get through Super Tuesday.