Ben Carson’s standing in the polls tumbled precipitously over the past three months, but his campaign is bringing in money faster than ever as the race for the Republican presidential nomination enters its first do or die stage.
The retired neurosurgeon’s campaign reported Wednesday that it had unofficially raised a whopping $23 million for the fourth quarter ending December 31. The impressive haul builds upon the $20 million he raked in for the third quarter and puts his total for the year at roughly $55 million.
Not to be outdone, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is reporting that his campaign took in $20 million over the final stretch of 2015, bringing his grand total for the year to around $46 million.
These figures are unofficial — final fundraising and expenditure tabs for presidential candidates won’t be released until later in January — but they reinforce the popularity and prominent roles that outsider candidates are playing in this election cycle.
While Cruz is already cruising in Iowa with a three point lead over Donald Trump in the polls, the fundraising haul is a much needed boost for Carson. In less than two months, his poll position tumbled from a high of 24.8 percent to just 9.4 percent today, according to an average of polls calculated by RealClearPolitics.
After assuming a brief lead in the polls over Donald Trump in early November, Carson stumbled amid lackluster debate performances, questions about his foreign policy credentials and attacks from the liberal media about his personal biography.
But while his momentum may have slowed down, the fundraising numbers show that he still boasts a strong grassroots following and cannot be written off completely. In an interview with FOX Business this week, Carson emphasized how his support was coming from everyday people who “recognize that the pundits and the media have been wrong about me from the beginning.”
“The people are the ones who have funded this. I don’t accept donations from billionaires who want to influence me or from special interest groups. I don’t believe in those things,” he added.
Through Sept. 30, 74 percent of Carson’s contributions had come from small donations of $200 or less — a ratio that was only topped by socialist Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders. By comparison, Jeb Bush, the big money Establishment candidate, took in just six percent of donations from small donors during that period, according to calculations by the New York Times.
Cruz’s successful quarter is also attributable in large part to a small donor network of more than 300,000 people.
“Over 10,000 of our donors are ‘sustainers’ who committed to contribute on an automatic, monthly basis, and provide enough recurring revenue ($500,000 a month) to fund our entire field operation,” Jeff Roe, Cruz’s campaign manager, wrote in a memo.
Carson is also attempting to re-engineer his campaign with a staff and strategy shake up. On Thursday, both Carson’s campaign manager Barry Bennett and communications director Doug Watts resigned.
“There will be some changes made so that the campaign is more consistent with me, with the way that I am, which is not confrontational and attacking other people, but who does put out the truth and is transparent and is reasonable,” Carson said on FOX this week in a separate interview before the resignations were officially announced.
This new and improved Carson will seek to project strength in a more refined manner than some of the other, more boisterous candidates.
“I need people to understand … that toughness is not dictated by how loudly you say something. Toughness is dictated by what you have achieved in your life.” he added in the FOX interview. “Don’t think for a minute that just because I’m a nice person that I wouldn’t do everything that was necessary to take care of the people of our country.”
However, Carson still has significant ground to make up in both Iowa, where he is polling in fourth place at 9.3 percent, and New Hampshire — where his seventh place, 5.5 percent standing makes for a bleaker outlook.