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Sanders Raises Nearly As Much As Clinton In 3rd Quarter

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Presidential candidates have been sending a lot of emails lately asking for money. We're going to focus on the Democrats for the moment. From Hillary Clinton's campaign, one email was a challenge to prove her detractors wrong. This is a dramatic reading.

(SOUNDBITE OF COMPUTER CHIME)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Reading) Friend, there are a lot of people out there hoping that we don't hit our fundraising goal before midnight tomorrow.

SHAPIRO: Midnight last night was the deadline. And from the Bernie Sanders campaign, also read here by a voiceover actor, there was this.

(SOUNDBITE OF COMPUTER CHIME)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Reading) Friend, I wanted you to hear it from me first. Just a few minutes ago, we flew past our goal of 1 million online contributions to our campaign. Let's keep going.

SHAPIRO: Well, today, we got some numbers. And to tell us what they are, we are joined by NPR's Peter Overby who covers campaign finance for us. Hi, Peter.

PETER OVERBY, BYLINE: Hi, Ari.

SHAPIRO: OK. What are the numbers?

OVERBY: The numbers are, for Hillary Clinton, $28 million raised in the third quarter, for Bernie Sanders, $26 million. The things to notice here are that he raised almost as much as she did and that he raised a lot more than he did in the previous reporting period. She raised less than she did in the previous reporting period.

SHAPIRO: What can you tell us about where these donations came from - big donors, small donors?

OVERBY: Well, for the Sanders campaign, very much from small donors. The 1 million online contributions they were bragging about in the email - that's kind of the epitome of what their campaign is about. The Clinton campaign, on the other hand, is - you know, it has a big online operation. They're doing a lot of online fundraising. But they also have her on a really heavy schedule of traditional fundraising things - $2,700 admission receptions, stuff like that.

SHAPIRO: To give us a little bit of context for these numbers, NPR political editor Domenico Montanaro is here in the studio with us. Hey, Domenico.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Hey, Ari.

SHAPIRO: How worried should Hillary Clinton be that Bernie Sanders is raising so much more money than people expected?

MONTANARO: Well, it's really remarkable what Bernie Sanders has been able to pull off coming from so far behind at the very beginning of this, having only about a third of the money that Hillary Clinton had and now pulling even with her in the polls and pretty much on par with where she is on fundraising. Here is the thing. Anyone who doubted that Bernie Sanders' surge was real, these numbers should really dispel that.

SHAPIRO: We're at a moment now where candidates are not required to disclose their totals. Those who have impressive totals have chosen to disclose. And Ben Carson announced today that he raised $20 million in the last quarter. That seems like a really impressive number.

MONTANARO: It is a very big number when you consider that Ben Carson's campaign essentially collapsed midsummer. There isn't much infrastructure there that he has. But one thing that I have noticed with Ben Carson - is somebody that I've covered. I've seen him since about 2010 with the Tea Party. And every single Tea Party supporter that I've talked to, the name on the tips of their tongue every single time is Ben Carson. What do you think of Ben Carson? I really like Ben Carson. So it's not surprising for people who've seen him and have seen the Tea Party for a while know that Ben Carson is surging here.

SHAPIRO: Sounds like the passion for outsiders that we've been seeing all summer, whether it's Ben Carson on the Republican side or Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side, is really translating to money, Peter.

OVERBY: Yeah. The downside for Ben Carson is that his cost of raising money is unusually high. You know, you have to spend money to get money, and he depends on a lot of very traditional methods - direct mail, buying mailing lists, things like that. And so his cash on hand is usually very low.

MONTANARO: And Hillary Clinton has spent a lot of money as well. She's only $7 million ahead of Bernie Sanders in cash on hand because it takes a lot of money to create a field organization that can go the long-term, and that's what she's built so far.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Domenico Montanaro and also Peter Overby. Thanks to both of you.

MONTANARO: Thank you.

OVERBY: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.