Joe Biden raised $6.3 million in the 24 hours since announcing his presidential campaign, a haul that topped all of his rivals in the Democratic race.
The former vice president’s campaign said Friday that more than 96,000 people sent money with an average contribution amount of $41. Of those who contributed online, 97 percent gave less than $200.
Most of the top candidates have been touting their first-day contributions as a show of their support from voters. The biggest previous totals came from former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, who totaled $6.1 million, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who took in $5.9 million.
After months of preparation and speculation, Biden formally announced his campaign Thursday and started out with a lead in most polls, followed closely by Sanders. First-day fundraising has become an important benchmark for the top tier candidates. Biden’s total may help quiet doubters in the party who questioned his ability to raise money and sustain his front-runner status over the 10 months until the first actual nominating contest.
Biden’s haul is all earmarked for the nomination race, according to TJ Ducklo, a spokesman for the campaign. Ducklo tweeted that 65,000 donations were new donors whose names were not on the campaign’s existing email lists. Within 90 minutes of announcing his candidacy by video, the campaign received contributions from all 50 states, Ducklo said.
Like most of his rivals, Biden took a pledge to refuse contributions from corporate political action committees and registered lobbyists. Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren have vowed not to attend big-dollar fundraisers where donors who can write bigger checks have a chance to interact directly with candidates.
Biden, 76, attended a fundraiser in Philadelphia Thursday night hosted by Comcast Corp. executive David Cohen and his wife Rhonda, and has an event planned on May 8 in Los Angeles with former Google chairman Eric Schmidt, movie mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg and Rufus Gifford, who served as finance director of former President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, among the organizers.
But with such a wide field vying for support among donors, both big and small, it could be difficult for Biden to build the kind of financial advantage that normally goes with being an early front-runner. Many big donors are waiting for the field to eventually shrink before committing to a candidate.
Others have opened their checkbooks to multiple candidates. Katzenberg, among the earliest Hollywood heavyweights to back Obama in 2007, gave $2,800 apiece to three White House hopefuls during the first quarter of the year: Senators Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. Schmidt donated $2,800 to Booker.
Biden’s late entry into the race has given his opponents a leg-up in assembling the war chests they’ll need heading into 2020’s compressed primary schedule, with just four weeks separating the Iowa caucuses in early February and the multi-state Super Tuesday contests.
Eight candidates reported to the Federal Election Commission that they ended March with at least $6 million in the bank. Sanders topped the list with $15.7 million.