One of Bernie Sanders’ biggest advantages is the political machine he has painstakingly built over the last few years. From his organization Our Revolution, to the millions of emails he collected during the first campaign, he has the bedrock of a true political revolution at his disposal. And looking at donors and sheer grassroots activism, it’s clear that Bernie is putting those resources to good use.
First just look at the small donor count. Bernie Sanders raised more money than any other candidate, raising $25.3 million with an average donation of $18.07. Bernie’s campaign manager Faiz Shakir stated, “Bernie is proud to be the only candidate running to defeat Donald Trump who is 100 percent funded by grassroots donations – both in the primary and in the general.” He went on to say, “media elites and professional pundits have tried repeatedly to dismiss this campaign and yet working-class Americans keep saying loudly and clearly that they want a political revolution.”
That’s not just bluster, Shakir is right, Bernie’s base is overwhelmingly made of the working class. The number one donor by profession came from teachers. The number one employer was Walmart. And the rest of Bernie’s donors largely come from the service industry and companies like McDonalds or Amazon. Bernie’s $18.03 average donation comes from millions of ordinary working people looking for a change. And it’s not just money, Bernie’s grass roots army translates into real campaign activity.
Bernie Sanders challenged his supporters to make one million phone calls to early states in just ten days. It took his supporters nine. Something which should come as no surprise to those who have been paying attention. Week after week Bernie’s events page is full of thousands of grassroots events in basically every single state. Thousands of people turn out week after week to make phone calls, knock on doors, and get the word out for Bernie’s campaign. That organization is the sort of organization that eventually wins primary elections and defeats Donald Trump.
Bernie Sanders had a smaller but still voracious grassroots army in 2016. This time around he’s got the biggest campaign organization of any candidate. He’s raising more money than any other candidate. And turning it into real life activism that wins elections. Only time will tell if other candidates can build competing organizations capable of similar feats of electioneering. But as it stands, Bernie’s massive grassroots army is doing work and gives him a distinct advantage.