How Bernie Sanders spends his small-dollar donations

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - It’s never been costlier to run a campaign. While there’s generally a lot of focus on how that cash is raised, little attention is paid to how it’s spent.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., gestures during a campaign rally Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, in Virginia Beach, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Experts said this year’s candidates are changing the way campaign cash is spent, none more-so than Sen.Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Sanders already raised more than $130-million with an average donation of just $18 a person.

Karl Evers-Hillstrom with Open Secrets, a website dedicated to shining a light on campaign finance, helped us break down how the senator is spending it.

Based on the latest set of complete numbers, for every $18, Sanders spends:
· $5.58 on travel, lodging, rent, polling, technology, and other odds and ends.
· $5.04 goes to staff salaries
· $4.68 to advertising
· $2.70 is spent raising more money.

As for where it’s spent, the money more or less follows the primary schedule.

"So what you see is them shifting their resources from Iowa, onto New Hampshire, onto South Carolina, and then onto the biggest Super Tuesday states," Evers-Hillstrom said.

Historically, there’s far more difference between candidates policies than how their campaigns spend their money.

"There’s kind of a playbook, and you raise a bunch of money and you spend most of that money on media," said Jennifer Victor, a professor at George Mason University.

Victor said this year is different. Sanders, who has a large, unionized campaign team, is spending a much higher percentage on staff, and less on media.

"From my point of view, it seems like it’s relatively consistent with his idea of running a grass roots campaign," Victor said.

Victor said that once Democrats eventually pick a nominee, the usual spending patterns will likely re-emerge. But, she said unlike in the past, no candidate will be able to keep up with cash pouring in from outside groups.

Vermonters are financially supporting Sanders, donating more than 13,000 times, accounting for about half-a-million dollars.

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