Despite most Democratic candidates foreswearing Super PAC money at the beginning of the campaign, the cash crunch that has hit several campaigns has forced them to change their tune.
Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg are in danger of running out of cash just as the 14-primary Super Tuesday rolls around. Politico has the grim statistics.
While Sanders started February with nearly $17 million in the bank, according to campaign finance disclosures filed Thursday night, his next closest rival (nonbillionaire class) was Biden, at $7.1 million. Warren was closest to the red, with just $2.3 million left in her account, while Buttigieg ($6.6 million) and Klobuchar ($2.9 million) were in between.
The cash crunch comes at a critical time in the race, with nearly one-third of the delegates available in the primary up for grabs on Super Tuesday on March 3 — and only a handful of candidates able to marshal resources to advertise to voters in those 14 states. It’s why super PACs, demonized at the beginning of the 2020 primary, are suddenly jumping in to assist most Democratic candidates, and it’s why the campaigns are now making ever more urgent pleas for financial help.
Not only is Bernie Sanders raising a ton of money online, most of those donations are less than $200, meaning there’s plenty of slack in his fundraising base to go back and ask for more. This will be crucial for beyond Super Tuesday, where it’s likely Sanders will emerge with a healthy lead in delegates. There are some states ahead with very expensive ad rates where Sanders will need to compete — or try to — with Bloomberg’s billions. He will probably be the only candidate who can.
“There are only a couple candidates out there with the funds to compete in all of those Super Tuesday states,” said Ami Copeland, deputy national finance director for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. Other campaigns “have to fight among themselves for the smaller states.”
That made Warren’s strong debate performance Wednesday night especially important for her campaign, which said it raised over $5 million in less than 24 hours — a much-needed influx and her best fundraising day to date.
We’ll see how she looks after South Carolina, where she is not expected to do well at all. Besides, she is apparently refusing to disavow the seven-figure ad buy being made by her very own Super PAC.
On Wednesday, a new super PAC, Persist PAC, began reserving seven figures worth of TV ads, boosting Warren’s campaign with an ad highlighting her experience at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Asked on Thursday whether she would call on the super PAC to take the ads down, Warren declined to disavow the new group, despite her earlier opposition to super PACs in the race.
“If all the candidates want to get rid of super PACs? Count me in, I’ll lead the charge. But that’s how it has to be,” Warren told reporters.
Apparently, principals are only viable — until they aren’t.
Of course, no one in the media will call out any of them for their rank hypocrisy. “Hypocrite” is a criticism only reserved for Republicans. For Democrats, it’s just “smart politics.”