Senator Bernie Sanders is the frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic primary race. Don’t believe anyone who tells you different. He leads the prediction markets on average, he is tied or leading in the polls and he is just leading, big time, if Biden doesn’t run. He has the most donors, volunteers, and cash. So its time for him to look at the choice Hillary Clinton made in 2016 and go the other way. Clinton shoved all her resources into Iowa and New Hampshire and this cost her a ton of delegates in other states. Meanwhile Bernie lost Iowa by 0.2% and won New Hampshire by 23%.
Senator Bernie Sanders spent $40 million in Iowa and New Hampshire in 2016. He campaigned 50 days in each state. As a Missouri volunteer I spent more time in Iowa than my own state. Multiple weekends plus 7 days in the run up to caucus night. We got a whole 2 weeks to campaign in Missouri once the office opened and we got on the canvassing app. That was fine in 2016 when Bernie needed to get cheap news headlines and build name recognition. It is a terrible strategy for the candidate with a massive national profile and piles of small donor cash.
Bernie Sanders is on track to raise $400 million dollars in 2020. He got $228 million in 2016. Bernie made $14 mil in Q2, $30 mil in Q3, and $37 mil in Q4 of 2015, the year comparable to 2019 this time around. We are one month into Q1 of 2019 and Bernie has raised $14 mil in fresh cash, once we get the most recent totals, and he had $14 mil in the bank already. We have an extra three months of fundraising and we are already way ahead of the game. I’ve been saving up to max out this time, compared to last time, and to do it much earlier. I know I’m not alone.
Bernie needs to have at least 1 office in every state and every city over 100k people before Q2 is over. That’s roughly 300 offices when you account for crossover. Assuming a salary of $50000 a year, which totals out to ~$75000 per staffer by the end of the campaign before GE fundraising kicks in, Bernie could hire 3000 full time staffers for the whole campaign and still have tons of cash for senior staff, offices. Note that as primaries start to happen over the 5 month voting period you can start moving staffers to other places. You have 60 staffers a state on average, perhaps you do 2 staffers per 100k population in smaller states, so 10 in Wyoming, to 60 in Iowa, and then you take a small hit in the bigger states, but efficiency scales with size. You could also just hire an extra 1000 if you needed to.
Paying staffers provides a lot of benefits over pure ad spending when you are a progressive grass roots campaign. You are training new activists and organizers on the job, although to some degree people on a presidential campaign will already have some qualifications, you are allowing progressives to change our political system without a second job, you are throwing millions to large corporations and a media which dislikes you, this money can be donated to your campaign, I believe, but definitely to other campaigns including House and Senate candidates and state candidates to help you get support for your agenda, and other second order bonuses like that. With 3000 staffers plus the associated offices and other infrastructure you are in a position to knock on every relevant door as often as it takes.
3000 staffers could knock on 30 million doors by themselves. Or they could organize your army of 1.5-3 million volunteers to knock on every potential voter’s door 5-10 times. You can reach even marginal voters because you have so much on the ground canvassing power. There has been no Democratic primary in which more than 40 million people have voted. You have power to spare and the organization to use it well.
Ad spend is typically used to build name rec and campaign awareness. It costs a ton of money and a ton of that money goes to the ad buyer, Tad Devine in 2016. He made millions. No supporter wants to donate to enrich him and major media. Also Bernie has name rec. On top of this when you are knocking on every door 10 times because of your massive grassroots army, name rec is not a big deal.
I’ll be doing at least 20 posts on the 50 state strategy. One more is going up right after this. Bernie needs to fight for every single delegate. So many candidates don’t have the cash to compete nationally. Advantage Bernie.