As the fiery Democratic debate in Nevada raged on Wednesday night, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) began fundraising at a blistering pace.
Warren, in particular, lit up the stage in Las Vegas. As Vox’s Emily Stewart noted, the appearance of multibillionaire and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg brought back the Warren who started the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and promised to leave a legacy that meant “plenty of blood and teeth left on the floor” in the agency’s creation.
The Warren of past debates calmly promising party unity was gone, replaced by the fighter. And her supporters clearly loved it.
Within hours, Warren’s campaign announced they had raised more than $2.8 million on Wednesday, their best debate fundraising day of the campaign to date. During the debate, one of her staffers tweeted that the campaign had raised $425,000 in just 30 minutes. This is very good news for the Warren campaign, given that her fourth quarter fundraising numbers had fallen behind the Q4 hauls of many of her main competitors last year.
We just had our best debate day of the entire campaign, raising more than $2.8 million.— Team Warren (@TeamWarren) February 20, 2020
Will you chip in $2 right now to keep the momentum going? We can only do this together. https://t.co/uXvKIOKVrW
Warren barely edged out fellow progressive Sanders in the fundraising race. Just after midnight, the Sanders campaign announced the Vermont senator had raised $2.7 million from nearly 150,000 individual donations — also their campaign’s best debate day.
These are impressive sums for both candidates, and they demonstrate the power of debates to help rally candidates’ bases — and help voters choose among them. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-MN) New Hampshire debate performance a few weeks ago boosted her profile so much that she came in a very close third in that state’s primary behind Sanders and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
The mere presence of Bloomberg — a man who has spent more than $400 million of his own money in advertising to boost his national profile — seemed to shake progressive voters into action, given the numbers posted by Sanders and Warren.
It’s too early to tell yet whether this will also boost Warren significantly in the Nevada caucuses, especially since the caucuses’ well-attended early voting period already closed before the debate. Caucuses can be tricky; they have two voter realignments and report multiple sets of numbers. The lack of Nevada polls means we also don’t have a very good sense of what voters on the ground are thinking right now.
Warren — who has been flagging in national polls since her fourth-place finish in New Hampshire — needed a good performance on Wednesday night. She overdelivered.