Bernie Sanders nets $26 million: a new kind of fundraising?

The Democratic presidential candidate announced Saturday that his $26 million reported this quarter came from 650,000 donors, each contributing about $30.

Michael Dwyer/AP
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, speaks during a campaign rally in Springfield, Mass. on Saturday.

The $26 million Bernie Sanders raised this quarter came from 650,000 donors who each contributed an average of $30, the Democratic presidential candidate said on Saturday.

Yes, that math doesn't quite work, adding up only to $19.5 million, but the Vermont senator’s outsize donor pool still stands in stark contrast to the tight concentration of the super-wealthy who are responsible for propping up much of this election, “sometimes bringing in tens of millions of dollars from a few businesses or individuals in a matter of days,” wrote The New York Times.

This August, the Times reported “fewer than four hundred families are responsible for almost half the money raised in the 2016 presidential campaign, a concentration of political donors that is unprecedented in the modern era.”

Senator Sanders’s $26 million, reported this week, shows “our campaign is a different type of campaign,” he told voters in Springfield, Mass. this weekend. “It is a grassroots campaign, designed not only to elect someone to be president of the United States, but to build a political movement.”

Sanders’s numbers also impressed because they came in only $2 million below Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s haul this quarter, drawing “attention to the growing relevance of Senator Sanders’s insurgent campaign,” reported The Christian Science Monitor.

How the two Democratic candidates have been spending all this money is suggested to be dramatically different as well. In the third quarter, Mrs. Clinton “expanded her campaign’s ground operations and launched a paid television campaign, spending around nine out of every 10 dollars she raised,” according to The Washington Post.

“Sanders spent only an estimated $11.6 million – less than one out of every two dollars he raised – showing how far he has been able to take his insurgent bid with a relatively lean operation.”

"I am enormously proud," Sanders told a crowd of more than 20,000 in Boston on Saturday, according to ABC News. "As some of you may have noticed, we have raised tremendous sums of money, because 650,000 Americans made contributions average $30 apiece.”

"In other words, we are running a people's campaign," he said. "And the millionaires and billionaires may have more money than we do, but we have something they don't have. Look around this room – this is what we have."

Sanders took a moment to address the several thousand who were unable to make it inside the stadium, but who had stayed to watch the candidate’s speech on screens.

“You guys are the true believers," he said over their cheers. “Thank you for freezing out here.”

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