Former Vice President Joe Biden may be leading in the delegate count, but the Biden campaign is in the midst of a massive restructuring, Politico reports Monday, retooling its strategy, adding staff, and addressing dismal fundraising numbers that haven’t picked up since Biden became the frontrunner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
The Biden campaign was “limping along” when it suddenly turned a corner, Politico reports, and the situation hasn’t gotten better, particularly as the race for the White House has faded from headlines and the two remaining contenders for the Democratic nomination have disappeared from the airwaves.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) held his first online campaign event Sunday night, while the Senate was voting on a coronavirus relief package — despite saying just days earlier that his priority was individuals affected by the economic lockdown — and Biden resurfaced on Monday morning in a “shadow briefing” on the pandemic, faltering through a speech criticizing President Donald Trump’s response to COVID-19 and urging Democrats to resist passing a coronavirus relief package.
But despite being the frontrunner, Biden hasn’t been able to capitalize on the fundraising that is supposed to follow a polling lead.
“[C]ampaign finance disclosures filed late Friday highlight how Biden has nearly captured the Democratic nomination on momentum and message instead of organizational prowess — and the work his operation has to do to build up for a grueling general election campaign against President Donald Trump,” the outlet said Monday.
In February, Biden was outraised by four other candidates. He brought in $18.1 million — a substantial sum considering his previous hauls — but fell short of Sanders, who racked up nearly $50 million, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who brought in nearly $30 million, and also-rans Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who brought in $18.7 million, and former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, who netted $18.6 million.
Biden also has half the staff that Sanders and others do, with only 477 national campaign employees, and has less cash in the bank. Sanders, after outspending Biden more than two-to-one in Feburary, still had $18 million on hand. Biden had just $12 million at last count.
The Democratic frontrunner was supposed to get an influx of cash from former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, but the Bloomberg operation scaled back its contributions after coronavirus hit and Bloomberg’s businesses were forced to downsize. Instead, he’s donating $18 million to the DNC, which has little money to spare. Politico says the DNC is suffering, and “ended February with $14.1 million on hand, compared to $76.8 million for the RNC.”
The former Veep is catching up. He says he’s raised $33 million in March, but that was before he disappeared almost completely, and well before the coronavirus pandemic upended the presidential campaign. It was also before most states called time on their primaries, leaving Biden likely unable to aquire the 1,991 delegates needed to lock in the Democratic presidential nomination before the DNC’s July convention.
The Biden campaign says it is retooling, and now has a new campaign manager, but bigger changes are on the way — changes that may be too little too late, or potentially unaffordable.