On January 31, the 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates submitted their end-of-year finance reports to the FEC. The filings give us a limited (but informative) window into 2020 Democratic presidential candidate fundraising and spending up to this point. So, I did what any curious data nerd would do. I dumped the entirety of the FEC bulk data packages for the current cycle into a data lake and got to work.

As of February 11, 2020, the New York Times is reporting that the following candidates are firmly in the running for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination:

  • Joe Biden
  • Bernie Sanders
  • Elizabeth Warren
  • Michael Bloomberg
  • Pete Buttigieg
  • Amy Klobuchar

While other candidates might displace these frontrunners later, it seems likely that this is the most viable pool, so I’m focusing only on them.

Get to the charts already!

Here is the big picture perspective of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate spending and fundraising. If you’d like more detailed breakdowns of campaign spending, head to the bottom of this post.

Democratic Presidential Candidate Fundraising and Spending
Democratic Presidential Campaign 2020 Fundraising and Spending
License2020 Xyzology | CC-BY-SA | This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

How much cash do candidates have left?

Since candidates are spending almost as much money as comes in, one wonders just how much they have left going forward. The answer is not a lot.

Of all the candidates below, Michael Bloomberg has the least to worry about. He has plenty of money off the FEC books to throw at his campaign when he needs to. The others, however, will need to keep asking for money if they want to survive.

Democratic Presidential Campaign 2020 Cash on Hand
Democratic Presidential Campaign 2020 Cash on Hand
License2020 Xyzology | CC-BY-SA | This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Highlights and takeaways

Michael Bloomberg is dumping an enormous amount of cash into his campaign. Despite his late entry, Bloomberg is wasting no time leveraging his wealth to compensate. His spending as of the January 31 filing date was nearly $200 million. That’s almost three times the median Democratic presidential campaign spending of ~$65 million. Then again, $200 million is a drop in the pond compared to his astonishing $61 billion net worth.

Everyone is putting their money to work. It looks like all the candidates are making sure that their funds aren’t idling. They’re actively putting it to work in the campaigns. This does, however, illustrate why they are continually asking for money. They don’t have much in reserve, and there is a long road ahead.

Amy Klobuchar is doing remarkably well given how little she has raised. With 7 pledged delegates in her pocket, Amy Klobuchar is doing rather well. She’s getting far more bang for her buck than her better-funded “establishment” rivals Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden.

All candidates (except Bloomberg) have a lot more fundraising to do. Unlike Bloomberg (and the other billionaire in the race, Tom Steyer), the Democratic presidential candidates have a lot more fundraising to do. As mentioned, Klobuchar is doing rather well in terms of her delegate:money-spent ratio up to this point. She will still need a lot more if she ever hopes to eventually take on Donald Trump and his $143 million raised in 2019.

Additional perspectives

If you’d like a detailed view of Democratic presidential campaign operational spending, head over here.

Getting a copy of my source data

Data transparency is one of the central tenets of “good data.” In order to serve datasets efficiently, I’m working on building a repository that aligns with the Google Dataset structural requirements (which are informed by Schema.org). Watch this space for more details!

The main FEC bulk datasets can be found at the FEC bulk data repository. Be warned, some of the data packs are quite large (even compressed) and you’ll need a large environment available to work with them.