Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) second bid for the White House is barely out the gate, but the lawmaker already has a formidable war chest after leveraging the support of small donors who propelled him to the top of the Democratic pack in 2016.
Sanders raised nearly $6 million from 223,047 individuals in the 24 hours after launching his campaign Tuesday morning. In total, he had surpassed $6 million and 225,000 donors as of Wednesday morning.
“The only way we will win this election and create a government and economy that work for all is with a grassroots movement ― the likes of which has never been seen in American history,” Sanders said in a message to supporters on Tuesday. “They may have the money and power. We have the people.”
The senator’s campaign said the average size of the donations, about $27, mirrored the small-scale support seen in 2016.
Sanders confirmed his long-expected bid on Tuesday in an interview with Vermont Public Radio, saying he wanted to “let the people of the state of Vermont know about this first.”
“Together, you and I and our 2016 campaign began the political revolution. Now, it is time to complete that revolution and implement the vision that we fought for,” the senator said later in an email to supporters. “I am asking you today to join me as part of an unprecedented and historic grassroots campaign.”
Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Senate Democrats, lost his first attempt at the nomination to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016 but still managed to win widespread support. He secured nearly 1,900 delegates to Clinton’s 2,800.
Throughout his 2016 campaign, Sanders touted the small size in donations, which ultimately helped him raise more than $228 million. Many of his supporters still think he’s the right choice for 2020 and have celebrated his progressive agenda, including a $15 minimum wage, free tuition at public colleges and “Medicare for All.”
His 2016 campaign, however, has been shadowed by allegations of sexism after about two dozen women said they were sexually harassed or mistreated while working for the senator’s first bid. Sanders met with some of the former staffers last month after issuing an apology, saying he wasn’t aware of the claims in 2016.
“Clearly we need a cultural revolution in this country to change workplace attitudes and behavior,” Sanders wrote in January. “I intend in every way to be actively involved in that process.”
This piece has been updated with Sanders’ fundraising totals after a full day.