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Joe Biden leads fundraising in Nevada

Joe Biden collected nearly eight times as much from named Nevada campaign donors as did the next-best-performing Democratic presidential candidate, clearing more than $410,000 in itemized contributions during the April-to-June quarter, federal campaign records show.

The former vice president took in 95 percent of those contributions in just the two weeks between his April 25 formal entry in the race and a May 7 fundraiser in Las Vegas, netting $70,000 from bigger donors on May 6 alone.

The figures represent donations larger than $200, which are itemized on federal disclosures. Donations of less than $200 are reported as lump sums without identifying a particular donor.

Biden’s one-day take was more than what California Sen. Kamala Harris, the candidate with next-best Nevada numbers, raised from bigger donors for the entire April-through-June quarter. Harris listed just over $59,000 in itemized contributions during the period.

The Biden campaign said Thursday the candidate raised an additional $92,290 in unitemized contributions from Nevada donors of less than $200. That would put his Nevada total for the period at just over $500,000. The campaign said unitemized donations averaged $26 and comprised 95 percent of all Nevada donations, putting Biden’s tally of individual Nevada contributors, including 279 bigger donors, at around 3,800 for the period.

The Harris campaign said it raised about $100,000 from Nevada donors during the quarter, putting the candidate’s unitemized contributions at approximately $41,000. The campaign did not provide a separate breakdown for unitemized contributions.

Rounding out the top five Democrats were South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg with nearly $43,000 in itemized Nevada contributions, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders with $41,753, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren with $32,448, according to the candidates’ second-quarter fundraising reports.

Known commodity

Erik Herzik, a political scientist at the University of Nevada, Reno, said he wasn’t surprised by Biden’s early fundraising lead given the candidate’s Las Vegas fundraiser and his status as the de facto establishment candidate.

Biden is “a known commodity and he is most likely to get early money from larger donors,” Herzik said. “In contrast, someone like Buttigieg would get new money from smaller donors — people who are excited by his candidacy.”

Apart from Biden, the field, he said, could be “splitting an early small pot too many ways.” He added that he was surprised by Warren’s relatively modest showing, calling her “the progressive wing’s most viable candidate.”

“You would think larger progressive donors would start saying, ‘Yeah, this is the person we want to back as a counterbalance,’” he said.

In response to a request, Buttigieg’s campaign reported an unitemized Nevada total of just over $70,000. Nearly 2,000 donors made 3,185 contributions for an average of $22, a campaign spokeswoman said Friday. His itemized and unitemized contributions from Nevada totaled nearly $113,000, putting him ahead of Harris for second place in Nevada during the quarter.

The Warren campaign declined Friday to provide figures on its Nevada unitemized contributions. The Sanders campaign did not respond to a request for the same information.

Nationally during the same period, Buttigieg led all Democrats with $24.9 million in individual contributions, followed by Biden with $22 million, Warren with $19.1 million, Sanders with $18 million and Harris with $11.8 million. Those numbers include both itemized and unitemized contributions.

President Donald Trump listed $187,262 in individual itemized contributions from Nevada during the quarter and $8.8 million overall.

Nevada’s importance

With a strong start that tapered off quickly, according to the disclosures, Biden’s fundraising performance in the Silver State indicates pent-up demand from donors who were waiting to see if he entered the race. Biden likely benefits from his association with former President Barack Obama and ties to former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, as well as support from unions.

He has two Nevada visits planned in the next two weeks. The campaign has 30 full-time paid staffers in Nevada.

“It’s a really important state for us,” said Vedant Patel, the Biden campaign’s Nevada communications director.

Biden led in three Nevada state polls conducted in the spring, the most recent in early June — a Monmouth University poll of likely voters in which he led the pack with 36 percent, compared with 19 percent for Warren, 13 percent for Sanders, 7 percent for Buttigieg and 6 percent for Harris.

No Nevada-specific polling has been released since the first Democratic presidential debates in late June. Biden saw his national polling numbers drop following the debate after he took heat from Harris for his 1970s positions on busing and stumbled in his response to her criticism.

Though one of the smallest states by population, Nevada will hold its first-in-the-West Democratic caucus on Feb. 20, early in the primary and caucus cycle. It attracts outsize attention from candidates due to its status as a potential bellwether and campaign momentum-builder.

Contact Bill Dentzer at bdentzer@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-0661. Follow @DentzerNews on Twitter.

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