During an interview on NPR, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders announced that he now has more individual donors than any other candidate in history.
Audio via NPR:
Sanders said, “When we began this campaign six months ago, I’d say that 80 percent of the American people did not know who Bernie Sanders was, what I stood for. First polls that I saw had us at three percent or five percent. We have come a very, very long way. We have hundreds of thousands of volunteers in fifty states in this country. We have received more individual contributions, 750,000, than any candidate in American history at this point in the campaign.”
The number of donors is impressive by any standard, but Sen. Sanders also addressed the question that will make or break his campaign. Sanders discussed how he planned to attract the support of African-American Democrats.
Sanders said, “If the elections were held today, just among the African-American vote, we would lose. But I think we have a real path to winning the support of the African-American community for two reasons. Number one, I’m just not well known in the African-American community… That’s just simply the truth. We have to a lot better job in discussing my record which in the United States Congress is the strongest records of any member in terms of civil rights. Number two, I think even more importantly… the African-American community and the Latino community are struggling in a nation in which our middle class is struggling… the issues that we are focusing on, rebuilding the economy and in the process creating UP TO 13 million decent paying jobs, many of those jobs will be for minority communities. Making public colleges and universities tuition free will benefit everyone in America, but even more so, the African-American community.”
Bernie Sanders is very competitive with Hillary Clinton in states where white voters dominate the primary/caucus electorate (Iowa and New Hampshire). Sen. Sanders is losing badly in the states that are more representative of the makeup of the Democratic Party as a whole. All polls show Sen. Sanders losing by large margins in South Carolina and Nevada, but for Bernie Sanders this campaign is about something bigger than winning the Democratic nomination.
To understand why it is important that Sanders has inspired over 750,000 people to donate to his campaign, one must view the Sanders campaign as a political movement. The Bernie Sanders movement isn’t going to end if he does not win the Democratic nomination. Even if he loses the Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders will return to Washington as one of the most powerful leaders in the country.
No other senator can claim to have a movement of millions of people behind them. Bernie Sanders is building a political movement that could potentially change a nation. That is why the 750,000+ donors matter, and why to understand the success of Bernie Sanders one must look beyond the polls and towards the future beyond the 2016 election.