The Q3 fundraising numbers are in

First up, money stuff. Wednesday night at 11:59pm Eastern was the filing deadline for the Federal Election Commission. What that means is, everybody running for president had to submit detailed reports of how much they raised in the past three months, how much they spent, and, crucially, how much cash they still have in the bank.

So today, we’re going to dig into a couple of stories based on that—they will be super-short, since we’ve already covered a lot of the big headlines when folks announced their numbers early.

Messam tells the FEC he raised just $5 dollars in three months

The first fundraising story is a minor bummer for those of us who spent a lot of time in Florida. I lived there for 13 years, folks, and I can tell you, hydration and sunscreen are both no joke.

Anyway, Wayne Messam, the mayor of Miramar, Florida, filed his fundraising report with the FEC just like everybody else. But the filing has one rather upsetting detail—he raised $5 dollars. Yes, the database shows that he brought a total of five US dollars in during the entire three-month period and SPENT a grand total of zero dollars.

This compares kind of badly to the more than $50,000 dollars he raised in Q2 and just over $43,000 dollars in Q1. Now, the good news is, his actual raise was probably better than five bucks. In a story for USA Today, Nicholas Wu wrote:

“Messam's campaign said there had been a computer glitch, though they did not say how much the campaign had actually raised.”

Ten candidates spent more than they raised

Next in the fundraising bonanza, of the 19 Democrats still running, 10 of them spent more than they raised in Q3. That actually includes Joe Biden, who spent about $2 million dollars more than he raised.

But the biggest trouble may be for Senator Amy Klobuchar, who spent $7.8 million dollars, but raised just $4.8 million dollars. On the bright side for Klobuchar, she had a stellar online fundraising day right after her debate performance, raising $1.1 million dollars in just 24 hours. So if she repeats that a few more times, she can still close that deficit.

What the Republican primary candidates raised

Next up, let’s not forget that there are multiple Republicans running in the primary against Donald Trump. Trump had already announced a massive raise that we covered last week. But his competitors brought in…some money…too. Former Representative Joe Walsh raised $129,000 dollars, and also loaned his own campaign $100,000 dollars. So, not much compared to the Democrats.

Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford filed early, and his filing showed a raise of $60,000 dollars—so that’s less than half of what Walsh brought in, BUT Sanford has just under $1.4 million dollars in cash on hand, because, let’s not forget, he has run for many political offices before this one. He transferred a giant pile of money from his congressional fund, which was just sitting around.

And last up, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld raised just under half a million dollars in Q3. He is out-raising his two competitors handily, but we have to admit that their campaigns are on an absolute shoestring budget compared to the major Democrats and, of course, the sitting president.

What happened financially to the candidates who dropped out

In a Politico analysis, we can now see very clearly what happened to the various Democrats who dropped out of the race: they ran out of money. I’ll just cover them in the order of their dropping out, and their net losses in Q3. Now this doesn’t necessarily mean they actually ended in the red, like owing money to people—but it did mean they spent more than they raised in Q3 and saw the trend, so they dropped out before it became financially impossible to proceed. Swalwell ended at minus $520,000; Hickenlooper ended at minus $830,000; Inslee ended at minus $890,000; Moulton ended at minus $660,000; Gillibrand ended at minus $6.7 million;and de Blasio ended at minus $690,000. So. That’s that. Link in the show notes for more details.

Tom Steyer spends tens of millions on his own campaign

And for this last money story, let me just quote Adam K. Raymond writing for New York Magazine.

“…California billionaire [Tom Steyer] spent big in the third quarter after getting into the race in early July, dropping a staggering $47 million [dollars], a sum that the L.A. Times says “places him on track to join the biggest self-funding political candidates in American history.” The $47 million [dollars] is nearly all of the $49.6 million [dollars] that Steyer brought in during the third quarter. Who did the money come from? Nearly $1.5 million [dollars] from small donors, a half million [dollars] from large donors, and $47.6 million [dollars] from Steyer himself.”

The dates for the actual presidential debates have been announced

Next up, in case you like marking your calendar for things that are REALLY far in the future, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced the schedule for the actual presidential debates in 2020. Meaning, once we have a Democratic candidate, and presumably President Donald Trump is the Republican candidate, when specifically will those debates occur?

Well, here’s what we’ve got.

The first presidential debate is on September 29th, 2020. It’ll be held at the University of Notre Dame. Now, by the way, that’s just over ONE MONTH after the Republican National Convention. By contrast, the Democratic convention is in mid-July, so we SHOULD know both candidates by July at the latest unless something super-weird happens.

Okay, anyway, the vice presidential debate is on October 7th, 2020, at the University of Utah.

Then you’ve got the second presidential debate on October 15th, 2020 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

And the third presidential debate will be on October 22nd, 2020 at Belmont University in Nashville.

That’s pretty much all the info we have right now. Check out the link in the show notes if you want to read up on the official rules. Warning: they are very, very dry.

Yang will do a marathon online Q&A this Friday

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang will spend ten hours on Friday—that’s tomorrow, or if you’re late listening to this, probably RIGHT NOW—answering questions online. You can go to his website, Yang2020 dot com, to submit questions now.

The answers will come from 10am to 8pm Eastern time. According to a press release from his campaign, Yang will split the time between a live video stream and using a variety of Q&A systems. Platforms that will be part of this include his own website—which is the best place to start, I think—plus Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, and YouTube. Link in the show notes, of course.

Now to my knowledge, this is the longest single Q&A event I’ve seen for a candidate so far. As Yang mentioned in the debate, the questions that came in on Tuesday night are probably most likely to be covered, though you’ve still got a shot if you get that question in soon.

Sanders will get a big endorsement on Saturday

Senator Bernie Sanders mentioned at the debate that he will have a special guest at his rally on Saturday. That special guest is Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and she is expected to officially endorse Sanders at the rally.

Reporters Sean Sullivan and Dave Weigel broke that news in the Washington Post, and noted that another member of the “Squad,” Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, had announced her endorsement of Sanders on Tuesday this week. So Sanders will soon have at least half of the Squad’s support.

In an article for The Cut, Amanda Arnold wrote:

“Although a spokesperson for Ocasio-Cortez declined to officially confirm that an endorsement was forthcoming, he told the outlet that the congresswoman’s team was “looking forward to Saturday” — the same day of Sanders’s New York City rally, where he has teased the presence of a “special guest.”
Sanders has reason to be celebrating; these endorsements, both official and rumored, are significant. Since the freshman congresswomen were sworn into office this past January, they have bravely and relentlessly challenged the Democratic establishment to adopt more progressive platforms on everything from climate change to health care. As a result, the public has watched in anticipation to see which of the two most progressive candidates they would support: Sanders or Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren. […]”

So, expect that Saturday rally to be a big one, and expect the current president to tweet some opinions about all of that.

Biden and Warren swap places in polling averages

Last week, I told you about how Warren had taken the top spot in the RealClearPolitics polling average, also known as RCP. But at the time, she had NOT taken that top spot in my preferred polling average site, which is The Economist. Well, things have changed since then as more polls have come out, and guess what? Biden is back on top in RCP, but Warren is now on top in The Economist.

Right now, as I read this, Biden is ahead 29 to 23 in RCP. Over on the Economist, Warren is ahead 27 to 25.

So, the battle of averages continues. It is kind of interesting—and there are links in the show notes if you’re into this kind of stuff—to look at WHY this is happening. The short answer is, we have a lot of polls that come in with commanding leads for Biden. Looking at RCP, there’s a trio of polls that have Biden ahead by double digits. But then you also have a trio of polls that give Warren single-digit leads, in the 3 or 4 point range.

As time goes on, the window of which polls are included in the average shifts. So, for this window, Biden is up, much like in the previous window Biden was momentarily down. Because of that, I still think it’s fair to call these two candidate co-frontrunners.

Tuesday’s debate had the worst TV viewing numbers yet

Last up today, the ratings are in for Tuesday night’s debate and…they are not amazing. Long story short, this was the lowest TV viewership for a DNC debate this year so far, but it wasn’t a total blowout. This CNN debate had an estimated 8.3 million TV viewers, compared to 9.7 million in July, which was the last time CNN hosted one of these.

Counting the number of people who watch an event like this is becoming tricky. While CNN can use Nielsen data for its TV viewership, it can be harder to figure out the actual number of viewers on streaming platforms and things like radio. Remember, NPR carried this debate for the first time, and their reach is huge—it’s something like 1.3 million listeners across almost 400 different stations. But did they listen? Well, it’s really hard to count. Outfits like Nielson do attempt to measure this stuff, but it does get kinda squishy when you’re adding up different kinds of media.

Then you have to deal with streaming. CNN said there were 9.2 MILLION “stream starts,” but that doesn’t mean much, given the fact that I personally started my stream three times, one of them due to a glitch in the middle of the event. There’s also a metric CNN released, saying that 449,000 people live-streamed the “average minute of the debate,” which, you know, might imply that around half a million people streamed this thing. But again, how many people watched each stream? Hard to know.

Long story short: viewership is down a bit, but that may be tied to the fact that this TV broadcast aired ONLY on cable, while the debates with higher TV ratings all showed up on over-the-air broadcast TV which is more accessible to far more people.

Well, that is it for one more episode of the Election Ride Home. I have been your host, Chris Higgins. You can always find me on Twitter @chrishiggins. All right, after I post today’s episode, I am heading over to the Classic Tetris World Championship to run the camera department. This is the tenth annual competition, and if you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to check out the last link in the show notes. I’ve worked with these folks for years, and even worked on a couple of documentaries about this tournament. Tetris is my favorite sport, and if you tune in this weekend I think you might see why. So, check that out if you’re into it. A reminder on podcast schedules, there is no show on Friday, that’s tomorrow, and then on Monday, Kirby Ferguson will be here to talk about the Republican primaries. I’ll back at you with regular programming on Tuesday and onward. As always, thanks for listening, and I will talk to y’all on Tuesday.