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The dominant Democrat of the Trump era

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks Tuesday at Bernie's Big New Year's Bash
Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks Tuesday at Bernie's Big New Year's Bash, which drew 1,300 in Des Moines: Photo: Kelsey Kremer/The Des Moines Register via Reuters

Sen. Bernie Sanders' $35 million fourth-quarter fundraising, which easily tops 2020 Democrats, is a timely reminder that the socialist senator from Vermont is the single most consistently popular and viable Democrat of the past half-decade. 

Why it matters: The media rarely treats Sanders, 78, with the seriousness warranted by his sustained popularity and fundraising.

  • Like in 2016, Sanders has a legit shot to win the nomination — and an unshakable base to brace him. 

The data:

  • Since 2015, Sanders has raised more from small contributions (under $200) than any other Democrat, highlighting his grassroots support.
  • In both the 2016 and 2020 cycles, about 57% of his total fundraising came from small contributions. Joe Biden's share of fundraising from small contributions so far is only 35%.
  • Sanders' campaign says it took in 1.8 million donations during the fourth quarter — an average of $18.53.

The bottom line: Despite his age, and even after a heart attack and the insertion of stents this past fall, Sanders is surging again.

Between the lines: "His anti-establishment message hasn’t changed for 50 years, and it resonates with working-class voters and young people who agree the system is corrupt," the N.Y. Times wrote from Iowa last week.

  • "Sanders's revival has reshuffled the Democratic primary race, providing a counterweight to the shift toward centrism in recent months that has elevated Mayor Pete Buttigieg."

Go deeper: 2020 candidates' Q4 fundraising hauls