Politics & Government

Which 2020 Democrat is raising the most cash in SC? The answer could surprise you

Former Vice President Joe Biden raised the most money from South Carolinians in the second quarter of 2019, jumping ahead of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris who had the strongest showing in the first quarter.

The former Delaware senator raised more than $126,000 in the Palmetto State — nearly $100,000 more than Harris, of California, who fell to fourth in fundraising for the quarter — according to a new McClatchy DC analysis of the candidates’ latest federal filing reports posted Monday.

The top two Democratic candidates nationally also were the two who had the most fundraising success this quarter in South Carolina.

Biden — who entered the 2020 race late, more than a week after the election’s first quarter filings were due — fell to second in total cash raised nationally behind Pete Buttigieg, who raked in a total $24.8 million in the second quarter, beating Biden’s $21.5 million.

In South Carolina, however, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, finished second to Biden.

Coming off first-quarter donations of $18,400, Buttigieg raised more than $110,000 from South Carolina donors in the second quarter, putting him ahead of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who raised nearly $30,000 in the state to add to the $12,000 he raised in the first quarter, and Harris, who raised $28,000 in the second quarter to add to the $26,000 she raised in the state in the first three months of 2019.

Nationally, Sanders, a Vermont Independent, raised about $18 million, and Harris raised about $12 million in the second quarter.

Fundraising for remaining candidates in South Carolina dropped off quickly for the quarter.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, raised about $15,400 to add to $3,000 she received in the first quarter. She raised about $19.1 million nationally this quarter.

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, meanwhile, raised less than $14,600 statewide in the second quarter — about the same as last quarter — and brought in $3.6 million nationally. That is a decline from the $9.3 million the Texas native raised earlier this year.

U.S. Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota raised less than $7,000 from in-state donors. All three senators also each raised less than $4 million in total nationally, according to the second quarter filing reports.

In-state totals could be higher for the candidates. Campaigns are not required to disclose donors who spend less than $200.

President Donald Trump raised $386,000 in South Carolina.

Money not the only test of support

Since entering the crowded 2020 race, Biden has enjoyed an early lead in the polls. Those numbers have slipped in some cases, but otherwise have remained stable despite criticism over gaffes and his past record on race-related issues.

Among his most public critics on the trail is Harris, who, poll after poll, has nudged closer to Biden, though not enough to place first.

The State found in a recent analysis of South Carolina’s black voters — who make up more than 60% of the state’s Democratic Party electorate and are critical to winning the first-in-the-South primary — that their support for Biden has remained strong.

Fundraising success isn’t the only mark of a healthy campaign, some observers say.

“Money doesn’t always translate to votes,” said Antjuan Seawright, a Democratic strategist based in South Carolina. “Part of the reason why people are interested in South Carolina, we have a high percentage of working poor people, who have to decide, ‘Am I going to pay for (electricity) or childcare or give it to a political candidate?’ Money doesn’t always translate to support gained.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Maayan Schechter (My-yahn Schek-ter) covers the S.C. State House and politics for The State. She grew up in Atlanta, Ga. and graduated from the University of North Carolina-Asheville. She has previously worked at the Aiken Standard and the Greenville News.
Ben Wieder is a data reporter in McClatchy’s Washington bureau. He worked previously at the Center for Public Integrity and Stateline. His work has been honored by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, National Press Foundation, Online News Association and Association of Health Care Journalists.