Pete Buttigieg Spends Summer Fundraising with Elites; Polls Stuck at Five Percent

Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg addresses the Presidential Forum at the NAACP's 110th National Convention at Cobo Center on July 24, 2019, in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP) (Photo credit should read JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

Mayor Pete Buttigieg spent most of his summer fundraising in a cash dash to America’s wealthiest liberal cities.

After shocking Democrats with a $24.8 second-quarter fundraising haul, the South Bend mayor continued hitting the fundraising circuit at a record pace in July and August.

The mayor has held at least 100 fundraisers since launching his campaign in April, 58 more than Vice President Joe Biden.

In August alone, Buttigieg hit up donors in Chicago, Santa Fe, Orlando, Portland, Connecticut, Maine, Austin, Atlanta, and the Hamptons in New York.

He has returned on multiple occasions to California for high profile fundraisers, one hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, Jason Bateman, and Chelsea Handler and another last Tuesday with Mandy Moore. He has also courted donors in San Francisco and Oakland.

Buttigieg already raised more money in California as their U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, plus Silicon Valley, gay, and Hollywood communities have taken special interest in his campaign.

The L.A. Times reported he has raised $402,000 from the entertainment community in the second quarter, easily beating Harris’ haul of $280,000, and former Vice President Joe Biden’s $170,000 haul from Hollywood. Most of the recent fundraising analysis is based on his shocking second-quarter fundraising numbers announced in July. The next quarter could be even higher. 

Buttigieg’s cash dash is mostly responsible for his soaring private jet bills, as the campaign spent more than $300,000 on charter flights around the country.

Despite his fundraising prowess, Buttigieg remains only in the single digits in the polls.

According to Morning Consult’s Democrat primary polling tracker, the South Bend Mayor remained stuck at five or six percent. His highest polling numbers tracked in April, after his campaign announcement.

That’s going to change, according to the campaign, which has previewed a “Pete Wave” to reporters, hitting early primary states with a flood of hired campaign staff.

“Labor Day for us is really going to be a turning point,” said Buttigieg’s campaign manager Mike Schmuhl to McClatchy. “It’s when we’ll flip the switch.”

The Des Moines Register reports Buttigieg will open 20 campaign offices in Iowa in 20 days, part of a big push into the state and WMUR noted that the South Bend mayor plans to open 12 new offices in New Hampshire.

An early August poll of Iowa, showed Buttigieg in fifth place with eight percent, behind Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden. In New Hampshire, an early August poll also showed him with eight percent support.

Speaking to Buzzfeed, senior advisor to Buttigieg’s campaign Lis Smith reassured supporters that the fundraising push was part of their overall strategy.

“The second phase was to blow everyone out of the water on fundraising — everyone out of the fucking water. Done. Done,” she said. “Now the third phase is blow them out of the water with our organization and our organizational abilities.”


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