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Is Elizabeth Warren A Consensus Democratic Choice? This Data Suggests She Could Be.

We analyzed recently released ActBlue data to find out which combinations people gave to when they donated to multiple candidates.

Posted on August 3, 2019, at 12:21 p.m. ET

Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images

If you’ve given to multiple Democratic presidential candidates this year, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve given to Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Of everyone who donated to more than one candidate through the ActBlue platform, more than 41% gave to Warren.

We wanted to know how people group the candidates in their minds, so we analyzed gigabytes of recently released ActBlue data about individual donors who gave through the fundraising platform. Sometimes you see polls that show which candidates people are considering, or who their first and second choices are. With ActBlue – the single vendor that handles nearly all digital donations for Democrats and makes it easy for people to give money to many candidates – you can see who donated to multiple campaigns.

In general, Sen. Bernie Sanders is the undisputed champion of ActBlue. More than 744,000 individuals gave to Sanders through ActBlue. If you look at the New York Times’ geographical representation of donors so far, you’ll see Bernie Nation — he has more donors than most candidates in most of the country, with a few regional exceptions.

But when it comes to co-donors — instances where people gave to multiple candidates — Warren carries the day.

BuzzFeed News; Warren / Getty Images

Warren–Sanders, Warren–Kamala Harris, and Warren–Pete Buttigieg were the top three pairings.

Of course, Warren combinations aren't the only ones. The top 10 combinations also include the following:

  • 45,085 people gave to Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg
  • 31,068 people gave to Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard
  • 25,380 people gave to Beto O'Rourke and Pete Buttigieg
  • 24,258 people gave to Kamala Harris and Julián Castro
  • 22,931 people gave to Kamala Harris and Joe Biden
  • 22,796 people gave to Bernie Sanders and Mike Gravel

Harris and Buttigieg also register high in common donor pairings. And the overlap between donors to Gabbard's and Gravel's campaigns and Sanders' is also notable.

What to make of all this? We don’t want to take data about a fluid primary too far, but there are two conclusions that are pretty obvious:

1. People haven't made up their minds yet.

Tens of thousands of people have given money to, say, Harris and Joe Biden, or Warren and Harris and Buttigieg. Many, many people have given to both Warren and Sanders, who occupy a similar but not identical ideological space. Obviously, people give money to candidates for different reasons (for example, to make sure a candidate makes the debate stage), but once you lock in on a candidate, you might logically stop giving to others — so it seems reasonable to interpret some fluidity here.

2. Warren appeals to different kinds of Democrats.

More than 60,000 people have given to Warren and Harris. Meanwhile, the Harris–Sanders combo doesn’t crack the top 10.

The Warren primacy is even more clear in data for people who’ve given to three candidates, where Warren registers in 8 of the top 10 combinations. According to the data, 455,267 people gave to two candidates and 154,122 gave to three candidates. (Rounding out the top 10 are the Castro–Harris–Buttigieg and Booker–Harris–Buttigieg combinations.)

BuzzFeed News; Warren / Getty Images

Sanders has roughly 300,000 more ActBlue donors than Warren and raised about $14 million more than she did through the platform. There’s no disputing he’s the top fundraiser in this regard, and one with a vibrant and large base — a key element to winning elections.

But primaries can often be about coalition building — appealing to different types of voters — and there’s at least some evidence in this data that Warren is doing that. She’s raised money from people who also like the democratic socialist candidate, as well as people who also like more establishment Democrats.

BuzzFeed News

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.