Elizabeth Warren reports sharp decrease in fund-raising ahead of FEC deadline

Elizabeth Warren.
Elizabeth Warren.Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman via AP

Mirroring her recent tumble in the polls, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign disclosed on Friday that she’s facing a sharp drop in fund-raising in the last quarter of the year and made a last-minute appeal to supporters to close some of the gap.

Warren has raised $17 million so far in the October-through-December period, the campaign told supporters in an unusually specific e-mail. The total is down from $24.6 million in the third quarter, a roughly 31 percent drop.

“If the numbers don’t pick up, we run the risk of having to pull back plans to organize for Elizabeth Warren in all 50 states during the primary,” her campaign said in the e-mail. It asked supporters to “please chip in $2 or whatever you can” before midnight Tuesday to reach a goal of $20 million for the fourth quarter.


Warren’s third-quarter haul was the biggest of her campaign and second among Democrats only to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ $25.3 million for the July-through-September period. So raising between $17 million and $20 million in the fourth quarter would still appear to be a solid showing, depending on what her primary competitors raised, particularly given her policy of eschewing exclusive events for big donors and other conventional political fund-raising tactics.

Adam Green, cofounder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a grass-roots political action committee that supports Warren, said a total of $17 million with several days still to go in the quarter was “great.”

“Elizabeth Warren is proving that you can run on your values and raise as much or more grassroots money than many other candidates who sell their time to big-money corporate donors and then adopt their issue positions,” he said.

Rebecca Katz, a progressive political consultant who is not affiliated with any presidential campaign, said Warren’s push for last-minute contributions didn’t seem that unusual.


“They are playing the long game and seem to be quite prepared for the long road ahead,” Katz said.

Still, Warren’s campaign acknowledged that announcing the fund-raising total ahead of the reporting deadline is not common . Candidates often bombard their supporters with fund-raising e-mails toward the end of each quarter and frequently say they are running behind their goal — former vice president Joe Biden did just that on Thursday — but they rarely give specific figures and usually wait until after the quarter ends to announce their totals.

In going public ahead of time, the Warren campaign signaled it was highly concerned about the drop-off. The e-mail said the campaign was unlikely to match the 3rd quarter total and the $20 million goal, if met, would be a 19 percent drop-off.

“That’s how much the campaign needs to keep our plans on track,” the campaign said of the $20 million goal. A campaign spokesman declined to comment further.

Warren raised $19.1 million in the second quarter of 2019 and $6 million in the first quarter.

Warren’s fourth-quarter fund-raising drop coincides with a slip in the polls nationally as well as in the crucial early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

As she looks to regain the momentum that propelled her into the top tier of candidates earlier this year, Warren has changed her campaign trail strategy to take more questions from voters during events and deliver sharper criticism of some of her Democratic primary rivals, most notably over fund-raising tactics. During the Democratic debate in Los Angeles last week, Warren and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg clashed after Warren accused him of trading access for campaign donations.


“Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president of the United States,” she quipped, referencing a dinner for high-dollar Buttigieg donors that took place inside a wine cave in California’s wine country.

Warren made an early pledge in her presidential campaign not to take part in expensive fund-raisers or accept support from PACs and Super PACs, relying instead on online fund-raising from individual supporters. She went further in October, swearing off contributions of more than $200 from executives for large corporations in the tech, banking, or private equity industries.

Christina Prignano can be reached at christina.prignano@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @cprignano. Reach Jazmine Ulloa at jazmine.ulloa@globe.com or on Twitter: @jazmineulloa