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Biden donors divided on his prospects after New Hampshire primary loss

Biden donors divided on his prospects after New Hampshire primary loss
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Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden visits a polling station on the day of New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary in Manchester, New Hampshire U.S., February 11, 2020.

Carlos Barria | REUTERS

Joe Biden’s donors are divided over whether the former vice president can raise enough cash to persist in the Democratic presidential primary race following his weak showing in the New Hampshire primary.

Panic set in among some of Biden’s financiers on Wall Street and in other industries when it became clear Tuesday night that the one-time Democratic front-runner wouldn’t hit the 15% threshold to score any delegates from the New Hampshire vote.

Other Biden supporters, however, shrugged off the lackluster showing while they wait and see what happens in the Nevada caucus Feb. 22 and the South Carolina primary Feb. 29.

Some Biden bundlers, who declined to be named due to concern about upsetting the campaign, told CNBC that members of their donor networks are already calling to say that the former vice president’s flop in the Granite State looks like an insurmountable hurdle. These donors are also saying that they will stop backing Biden’s campaign if he continues under performing.

Biden finished the Iowa caucuses in fourth place and seemed headed for a fifth-place finish in New Hampshire behind Sen. Bernie Sanders, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. NBC News projected late Tuesday that Sanders had won the primary.

These Biden supporters were disappointed in how he failed to capture enough support from voters to capture a single delegate. Warren also couldn’t meet the voter threshold in the state.

Biden has lost ground among donors and voters. Buttigieg’s surge in Iowa has led to a bunch of previously undecided business executives to head toward his camp. Since Iowa, Biden has seen a drop in polls nationally. Sanders has overtaken him in the Real Clear Politics polling average.

One of the disappointed Biden fundraisers, who has known the former vice president for over a decade, said that failure in New Hampshire could indicate that disaster awaits Biden on Super Tuesday, which takes place March 3. More than a dozen states, including big prizes like Texas and California, hold their primaries that day.

“Even if we stay active for the next two races after another big loss, I suspect the remaining air will leak out of the balloon before Super Tuesday,” this person said late Tuesday as results rolled in from New Hampshire.

Biden’s campaign has repeatedly said it expects to have their best showing in South Carolina, which has a much bigger black population than Iowa and New Hampshire, and to make inroads on Super Tuesday. So far, polling has indicated that Biden enjoys the most support in the field among black Democrats, although recent polls show fellow moderate Mike Bloomberg and progressive Sanders cutting into that margin.

To compete in those states the Biden will need to have enough cash on hand, something it has struggled with throughout the 2020 election cycle. At the end of the fourth quarter, Biden finished with $8.9 million on hand.

Some optimism remains

Despite this criticism within Biden’s donor ranks, some of his supporters see Iowa and New Hampshire as blips in the larger strategy.

Charles Myers, the founder of Signum Global Advisors and a co-host of an upcoming fundraising event for Biden in New York, said he hasn’t seen any negative impact as the New Hampshire primary comes to a close.

“It hasn’t had any real effect on fundraising for the two events here in New York on Thursday. We’ve had a very strong response for both events,” Myers said. “As far as I can see in my network, there’s been no impact on fundraising.”

Another Biden donor, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the subject, said financiers didn’t expect Biden to win Iowa and New Hampshire – and that he’s in a strong position to pick up delegates in South Carolina.

“Biden is well positioned to move on to the more diverse states of Nevada and South Carolina, and have strong showings in both,” this person said.

A spokesman for Biden did not return a request for comment.

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