Democratic presidential hopeful former Vice President Joe Biden laughs during the sixth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by PBS NewsHour & Politico at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California on December 19, 2019.
Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images
Joe Biden is facing pressure from his donor ranks to attract more small-dollar contributors even as his fundraising surged in March.
The Biden campaign’s $46 million haul last month largely came on the heels of key primary victories in South Carolina on Feb. 29 and his dominant performance during Super Tuesday’s primaries and subsequent contests. It was the best month of fundraising he has had since he entered the Democratic primary last April.
Still, many of Biden’s top donors are encouraging the campaign to start hosting more virtual fundraising events that will allow small dollar donors to contribute and take part in the gatherings, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. They declined to be named as these discussions were in private.
The campaign seems to be taking some of that advice to heart as it has scheduled multiple small-donor events in April and May. One virtual fundraiser, set for May 1, is expected to bring in at least 125 co-hosts who are alumni of President Barack Obama’s administration and campaigns, according to a person familiar with the effort.
The co-hosts are expected to include former Ambassador Rufus Gifford, former senior Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett, former White House chief of staff Dennis McDonough, and “Pod Save America” hosts Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor and Dan Pfeiffer, this person added.
Tickets for that event, according to the invitation, start at $250 and go up to $2,800, which is the most an individual can donate to a campaign.
Biden and campaigns from both sides of the political spectrum have been forced to go virtual as governments and organizations push for social distancing to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Biden’s fundraising last month was fueled by online contributions. Seventy percent of the contributions came from digital donations, according to the campaign. The average donation was $40, it added.
Opening up more events to those who could give less than the standard $1,000 or $2,800 checks would bring in supporters who aren’t maxing out just to attend one meeting.
Even with an increased emphasis on small donors, which were a key part of former Democratic rivals Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders’ campaigns, Biden will have a tough time catching up to President Donald Trump’s campaign haul. While Biden outraised Trump in March, the president’s campaign alone had over $98 million on hand going into April. Biden, on the other hand, had $26 million.
The latest data from the Center for Responsive Politics shows that Trump has raised close to $15 million from donations between $200 and $499 throughout the 2020 election cycle while Biden has brought in closer to $9 million from contributions in that range.
“My belief, as someone who has raised a huge amount primarily off of lower dollars, is that they should have a lot more Zoom calls at the $100 and $250 level (and maybe some even at less than $100),” one of Biden’s bundlers said. “The calls could be with surrogates. No overhead, limited effort needed. There are a few $250 events, but not nearly enough,” this person said.
This week, Biden and his wife, Jill, are set to host virtual events with admission fees of at least $250. Jill Biden’s event, set for Tuesday, is sold out. The former vice president’s event is set for Wednesday.
The Biden campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.