Andrew Yang selfie
How $1,000 a month got Andrew Yang this far (2019)
04:17 - Source: CNN
Washington CNN  — 

Andrew Yang raised $10 million in the third quarter of 2019, his campaign tells CNN, a substantial haul that dwarfs the $2.8 million the businessman-turned-politician raised in the second quarter of this year.

Yang’s fundraising, powered by a devout grassroots donor base known as the Yang Gang, has turned the once longshot candidate into a fixture on the debate stage who is now polling better than most of his Democratic competitors.

Yang’s haul is substantially lower than the $25 million that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders raised or the $19 million South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg announced on Tuesday. But it does land Yang close to the $11.6 million that California Sen. Kamala Harris raised in the third quarter and markedly higher than candidates like New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who announced on Tuesday he had raised $6 million in the third quarter.

The third quarter of an off year is often one of the most difficult to raise money, so Yang more than tripling his second quarter haul demonstrates an ability to turn fervent online support into dollars.

Yang enters the final three months of 2019 with $6.3 million in the bank, his campaign said. His average campaign contribution is $30.18 and he has received donations from nearly 300,000 unique donors. Ninety-nine percent of Yang’s donations were under $200, they added.

“Andrew Yang is the only contender showing exponential growth in the third quarter, more than tripling his fundraising number from last quarter,” said Zach Graumann, Yang’s campaign manager. “This grassroots fundraising total, with $6m+ in the bank, ensures this campaign will have the funding to compete and outperform expectations through Super Tuesday and beyond.”

Yang has used his newly raised money to staff up. According to Randy Jones, Yang’s spokesman, the campaign has hired 70 new staff members over the last three months, bringing the total number of Yang staffers to 97.

Yang, who officially launched his presidential bid in 2017, was an afterthought in the Democratic field until recently, largely dismissed by his Democratic opponents and party operatives. But Yang has rallied a coalition of liberal Democrats, libertarians and some disaffected Republicans around a series of distinctive policy positions, namely his so-called Freedom Dividend, a plan to give every American adult $1,000 a month universal basic income that Yang argues would alleviate a host of social ills and eradicate poverty.

The plan has captivated Yang’s supporters, many of whom see that kind of unique policy as the best antidote to President Donald Trump.

A key way Yang has raised his substantial sum is swag. Yang branded merchandise is ubiquitous as his campaign rallies, where countless attendees sport “MATH” (“Make America Think Harder”) hats, Yang commemorative campaign buttons and a wide assortment of Yang branded T-shirts.

Yang’s campaign announced on Wednesday that merchandise purchases accounted for $2.4 million of the total money the candidate has raised, with the campaign selling roughly 20,000 MATH hats since its launch.

Colby Snow and Sarah Burton, two attendees at Yang’s September rally in Cambridge, Massachusetts, captured the benefits around this merchandise strategy by describing reactions to the “Yang” bumper stickers on their cars.

“The first day I pulled into my driveway with it on my car and my mom goes, what’s a Yang,” recalled Snow, a 23-year old student at University of Massachusetts Boston.

Burton, a 20-year old student at Suffolk University, added: “We both have had people ask us these exact words: What is Yang? What does Yang mean?”