Hundreds of the biggest Democratic fundraisers in the past two presidential elections are already picking candidates for 2020 — and Kamala Harris has a significant early edge, while Pete Buttigieg and his from-scratch campaign has scrambled into the second tier.
Harris has already received donations from 176 people or couples who raised at least $100,000, and sometimes many multiples of that, for Hillary Clinton in 2016 or at least $50,000 for Barack Obama in 2012, according to a POLITICO analysis of new campaign finance disclosures and “bundler” data from the Center for Responsive Politics. While the Democratic presidential campaigns have been focused on building small-donor armies this year, bundlers mine their networks for checks to pass along to campaigns six or seven-figures at a time, giving them a potentially massive role in a crowded primary.
Donations from these key fundraisers signal the out-of-the-gate interest the candidates are generating among many of the most wealthy and connected campaign supporters in the country. And while candidates have taken a more muted approach to raising checks from wealthy supporters this cycle as they seek to prove they have grassroots support online, they still benefit greatly big-donor support — and most are pursuing it seriously. Clinton and Obama’s bundlers raised hundreds of millions of dollars for their presidential campaigns, helped rally supporters to their cause, and participated in campaigns as surrogates and volunteers.