WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden surged ahead in fundraising in North Carolina over the last three months, far outpacing the other Democrats who are vying for the presidential nomination.
Biden’s campaign made significant gains in fundraising from July through September in North Carolina. In that three-month span, the campaign raised $263,687 from North Carolina donors, twice what they had previously brought in from the state.
The surge brought Biden to the top of the pack of Democratic candidates for fundraising in the state, where he had lagged in third place when campaign totals were last released over the summer.
The Biden campaign’s third-quarter fundraising totals are 38 percent higher than what Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) brought in during that time in North Carolina, $179,297. Sanders is leading nationally in fundraising among Democrats and is second behind Biden in North Carolina.
The standings come from a Policy Watch analysis of Federal Election Commission data of campaign contributions through the end of September. The totals include itemized contributions — all donations that exceed $200 and some smaller donations detailed by the campaign.
The other leading Democratic fundraisers in North Carolina are Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Warren trailed just behind in the most recent fundraising, with nearly $155,400 raised in North Carolina between July and the end of September. Harris brought in $154,340 in that time.
Buttigieg, who had been the leading Democratic fundraiser in North Carolina in July, trailed the other leading candidates in third-quarter fundraising, with just $109,680 from North Carolina donors. The other Democratic presidential hopefuls have each raised significantly less from North Carolina.
Biden’s relative success at fundraising in North Carolina is a departure from the landscape for Democratic candidates nationally, where he lags behind four other Democratic contenders.
Nationwide, Sanders has brought in twice as much money as Biden. And Warren, Buttigieg, and billionaire businessman Tom Steyer all have millions more in the bank for their campaigns than Biden.
Biden has said his trailing fundraising numbers reflect his late entry into the race. Biden announced his candidacy in April, months later than other candidates.
“We got started later than anybody at all in this campaign,” Biden told reporters earlier this month after an event in Columbus, Ohio, according to CNN. “We did not start off by dropping $10 million from a Senate campaign, wherever that money came from.”
Contributions from donors in North Carolina are a tiny slice of the totals the campaigns have in their coffers for each of the Democratic candidates.
In total, Biden has raised just over $393,000 from North Carolina donors. But his campaign has brought in nearly $37 million nationwide. Itemized contributions from North Carolina make up about one percent of the Biden campaign’s total contributions.
North Carolinians are also giving far more to Trump’s campaign. The president’s re-election campaign has raised over $2.5 million in North Carolina this campaign cycle, eclipsing any individual Democratic candidate. The total raised by all the Democratic presidential candidates combined in North Carolina still trails Trump’s fundraising by $600,000.
North Carolina backing
Biden received some high-profile backing in the state in September, when longtime U.S. House Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) said he would endorse the former vice president. Butterfield, a former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus who is serving his ninth term in Congress, said Biden’s more centrist views would help him in the state.
“Warren and Sanders cannot win North Carolina,” Butterfield told the Associated Press. “I have great respect for both of them, but they cannot win North Carolina. Joe Biden can.”
Many Democratic lawmakers have been hesitant to endorse any one candidate while so many are still in the race. But Biden has received several high-profile endorsements, the most of any candidate, according to an analysis by political statistics website FiveThirtyEight.
Biden and Butterfield teamed up for a fundraiser this week in Durham. The totals from that fundraiser, at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel in Durham, will be included in the next round of FEC reports.
In his remarks at the event, Butterfield criticized President Donald Trump and said Biden is the best candidate to win back the White House for Democrats.
“Four more years and he will rip our country apart,” Butterfield said of Trump. “We need a candidate that can beat Donald Trump, period. That candidate is with us tonight.”
Biden criticized Trump’s leadership at home and abroad and closed with a call to unite the country.
“I’m not joking when I say this, the place to start with unity is North Carolina,” Biden said, as the attendees gave him a standing ovation.
Nationally, Biden has edged out other Democrats to take a lead in most recent polls. A recent poll from USA Today and Suffolk University had Biden nine points ahead of other candidates, though that was a significant decline from their August poll that put Biden 18 points ahead.
North Carolina’s primary will be on March 3, “Super Tuesday,” with 110 delegates at stake.
Former state senator Cal Cunningham (D) surged ahead to outraise other Democrats in the last three months, for what is expected to be a highly-competitive battle for the North Carolina Senate seat.
The Democratic challenger raised almost as much from individual donors in the third quarter as Republican incumbent and powerhouse Thom Tillis.
Tillis has the most by far in his campaign account on Sept. 30 with $4.3 million in total receipts this cycle. Cunningham has raised $1.7 million in total receipts.
But the recently itemized contributions to each campaign are much closer. Cunningham raised almost $597,000 in itemized individual contributions in the third quarter. Tillis raised just over $825,000 from July-September. Tillis had raised nearly $1.3 million in itemized contributions from the beginning of the year through the end of June. The other half of his campaign donations come from big donations from political campaign committees.
Two other Democrats are running for the office: state Sen. Erica Smith and Mecklenburg County Commissioner Trevor Fuller. Tillis also faces a significant primary challenge from retired businessman Garland Tucker III.
The 2014 campaign that Tillis won against incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan was the most expensive race in U.S. Senate history at the time, according to the Center For Responsive Politics.
2020 presidential campaign donations
Here’s how much the Democratic presidential hopefuls who appeared in the October televised debates received from North Carolina donors so far this election cycle. The numbers include data through September 30 on the donations itemized in the campaigns’ filings, which likely exclude some small donations.
In total, Democratic presidential candidates have raised $1,936,495 from North Carolina donors. The Trump campaign has raised $2,536,109.
Allison Winter is a reporter for the Washington, DC bureau of The Newsroom network of which NC Policy Watch is a member.