WASHINGTON — Andrew Yang, the tech-centric outsider Democrat running for president, raised more than $10 million in July, August, and September of this year, according to Yang’s campaign. The eight-figure haul is more than triple what he raised in second quarter of 2019. And it is by far his best quarterly fundraising total since he launched his campaign in 2017.
According to a campaign spokeswoman, Yang 2020 currently has more than 300,000 unique donors and has $6.3 million in cash on hand.
Yang’s presidential bid has taken many in the Democratic Party by surprise. An almost complete unknown in the political world, Yang started with few resources and a make-it-up-as-you-go campaign operation. But thanks to wildly popular appearances on long-form podcasts like The Joe Rogan Experience and a wildly energetic online following known as the Yang Gang, the 44-year-old Yang has slowly but steadily climbed in 2020 early-state polling. The RealClearPolitics Democratic polling tracker ranks him sixth, ahead of multiple senators and members of Congress. He has qualified for all three Democratic debates so far and is on pace to make the stage for the rest of this year’s debates.
“Andrew Yang is the only contender showing exponential growth in the third quarter, more than tripling his fundraising number from last quarter,” Yang’s campaign manager, Zach Graumann, said in a statement announcing the $10 million figure. “This grassroots fundraising total, with over $6m in the bank, ensures this campaign will have the funding to compete and outperform expectations through Super Tuesday and beyond.”
According to the campaign’s announcement, $2.4 million of the campaign’s $10 million fundraising total came from merchandise purchases, including the sale of 20,000 hats bearing Yang’s unofficial MATH slogan. (It stands for Make America Think Harder.) The campaign also said 99 percent of its donations were made online and under $200.
The centerpiece of Yang’s presidential campaign is a “universal basic income” — Yang calls its a “Freedom Dividend” — that would give $1,000 a month to every American adult who wants it. Yang’s campaign message differs from the rest of the 2020 Democratic field in that he focuses largely on what he calls the twin threats of automation and artificial intelligence. Like manufacturing in decades past, Yang fears that automation and robots will wipe out millions of jobs in trucking, call centers, fast food, and retail. As he puts it, “We’re in the third inning of the greatest economic and technological transformation in the history of our country.”
His message has so far connected with a largely online, tech-savvy audience that calls itself the Yang Gang. These supporters of Yang’s have organized on Reddit, Basecamp, Discord, and other online platforms. They rally one another to spread positive stories, videos, and memes about Yang; they’re also not shy to voice their displeasure with stories critical of Yang.
So far, the Yang campaign has worked to harness that online outpouring into real action — phone banking, online fundraising, door knocking, and so on. The campaign operates a Slack channel just for its volunteers, and at a recent staff meeting, senior campaign officials announced that they’re surpassed 10,000 active volunteers in the Slack channel.
In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Nick Ryan, Yang’s campaign chief, said the campaign doesn’t want to be a novelty outsider like, say, former Texas congressman Ron Paul. “This is a candidate and campaign that is built to last,” Ryan says. “We’re going to be around into [the Democratic convention in] Milwaukee and the rest of it.”