Joe Biden’s Cash-Strapped Campaign Turns to $2,800-a-Head Virtual Fundraisers

Joe Biden at Home
Jimmy Kimmel Live

The Coronavirus may have put the Democratic primary on hold, but former Vice President Joe Biden is exploring efforts to continue fundraising for his cash-strapped campaign.

Biden’s campaign, which only had $12 million in the bank as of the most recent Federal Election Commission (FEC) deadline, will host a series of virtual fundraisers over the month of April. The most high-profile of these will be a “virtual fireside chat” with the former vice president on April 16. That event,  hosted by the Silicon Valley venture capitalist Jed Katz, will cost donors $2,800-a-head to attend. The former vice president’s wife, daughter, and a top foreign policy adviser are also scheduled to host online fundraisers in the coming week for the campaign.

The decision to transition to virtual fundraising comes as the 77-year-old Biden has been in isolation to limit his chance of being infected by the Coronavirus. As of mid-March, the former vice president has not made a single public appearance in-person, opting instead to conduct media interviews from the basement of his Delaware home. Biden’s decision to retreat from the trail has created a problem for his campaign, which was only just beginning to ramp up its fundraising operation before the pandemic’s outbreak.

Since jumping into the race last April, the former vice president has struggled to raise enough money to keep ahead of prolific spending, especially on luxury air travel. Between October and December 2019, Biden’s campaign spent nearly $23.3 million, despite raising only $23.2 throughout in the same period. Those numbers did not improve in the first two months of this year. After flopping in the first three nominating contests, Biden raised only $27 million throughout January and February. His campaign, however, spent nearly all of that, leaving only $12 million on hand at the start of March.

Biden’s fundraising troubles stem from an inability to make in-roads with small-dollar donors, resulting in an overreliance on big money contributors. Unlike his progressive rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Biden’s campaign has been mainly fueled, to date, by more than 4,800 donors with pockets deep enough to max out, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

It is unclear if Biden’s financial position improved after he scored decisive victories in the South Carolina primary and on Super Tuesday. The FEC filing deadline for money raised and spent in March has yet to pass.

Even so, the former vice president’s campaign lags far behind that of President Donald Trump, which has raised more than $164 million as of February, with $94 million on hand for the general election.


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