Empty wallets might finally do to the crowd of Democrat 2020 presidential challengers what national disinterest could not.
New financial disclosures show that 11 liberal contenders for the Oval Office are operating their campaigns at a deficit, having spent more money than campaign donations could support. Eight more have less than $1 million on hand. More than five months from 2020, only the front-runners have the financial means to go much further.
“This is the doomsday scenario for a lot of campaigns, where they’re grasping for air to keep their campaigns alive and to live another day,” said Washington Democrat strategist Andrew Feldman. “You can’t build an organization. You can’t build an operation that turns enthusiasm into votes without having resources to do it.”
“You’re not going to see a lot of people continuing to give to a person with no money left,” he added.
The next round of Democrat debates — held on the nights of July 30 and 31, will be the last chance for many contenders to gather enough attention to remain solvent as their campaigns limp steadily deeper into political obscurity. Tomorrow, the Democratic National Convention will decide which candidates will even make it that far.
“Some of these candidates need a miracle,” said Mathew Littman, Democrat strategist and former Joe Biden speechwriter. “It’s like if you’re a baseball team and you’re 15 games behind in mid-July, the odds are that you’re not making it to the playoffs.”
“If you don’t have the money, you’re not going to have the infrastructure. And if you don’t have the money or the infrastructure, what are you going to do to break through? At this point, it’s just very, very tough,” he said.
“Money is a measure of viability,” said Kelly Dietrich, a former Democrat fundraiser and founder of the National Democratic Training Committee. “And a bad fundraising quarter — your viability will plummet, and it’s really hard to turn around.”
For now, only five candidates are secure: Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg. Only time will tell how many challengers the Left can support over the next 16 months.