NOEL KING, HOST:
In just one month, the Iowa caucuses start. And eight days later comes the New Hampshire primary. NPR senior political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro is watching the run-up. And, Domenico, candidates have put out their latest fundraising numbers. How's everyone doing?
DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Well, look. The big number was from Bernie Sanders in the last quarter. He raised $35 million, which is a pretty big number for a primary. Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., now, raised $25 million. Joe Biden, the former vice president, raised about $23 million. And Andrew Yang had his best quarter with $17 million. We still have not heard from Elizabeth Warren, which shows she's not exactly touting these numbers. You know, I think it's really significant that Sanders has raised this kind of money. It shows tremendous grassroots support. And it means he'll be there for the long haul.
You know, Biden's campaign is pretty happy with their numbers. They're breathing a sigh of relief. Their numbers are up from the last quarter and shows donors are sticking with him. But he's going to have to do well in Iowa and New Hampshire to keep that support going for later primaries. To put these numbers in some context, though, Donald Trump, the president, has raised $46 million, more than any of the candidates. He has more than $100 million cash on hand. And Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who's running in the Democratic primary but not competing in the first four states - he's spending more on ads in the first week of this year - $36 million - than Bernie Sanders raised in the entire last quarter that just ended.
KING: He really is his own thing. All right. Let's talk about Iowa and New Hampshire. Candidates really need to do well here, don't they? Or at least some candidates really need to do well, right?
MONTANARO: The name of the game is momentum. You know, in past elections, Iowa and New Hampshire really shaped the narrative of what's going on. And no one's been able to ignore the first two states and win the nomination. Just one candidate in the last 40 years has lost both Iowa and New Hampshire and won the Democratic nomination. That was Bill Clinton. He competed, though, in both of those places. He wound up losing to people who had something of home-state advantages. And his second-place showing in New Hampshire got him dubbed the comeback kid.
KING: So ultimately, does a candidate's performance in Iowa or New Hampshire indicate who will get the nomination or who will become president? Do we know anything?
MONTANARO: I know everyone wants to know if they're predictive of who gets the nomination. But, you know, Iowa is actually a lot more predictive than New Hampshire. Seven of the last 9 Iowa Democratic winners since 1976 have become the nominee, including the last four Iowa winners. Just 5 of the last 9 New Hampshire winners have become the nominee and neither of the last two from 2016 or 2008. No one in that time who became the nominee has won New Hampshire and not won Iowa, too. So you, know, that's an important thing to keep in mind. When it comes to becoming president, people in New Hampshire have a little bit of shade that they like to throw at people from Iowa. They like to say that people from New Hampshire pick presidents, and people from Iowa pick corn.
MONTANARO: Not on the Democratic side. That is just not true. There have been three Democratic presidents in the last 40 years - Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. And Carter is the only one who won New Hampshire.
KING: OK. And I know, Domenico, that you've also been following polls pretty carefully. What can you tell us about what you're seeing and whether or not it matters at this point?
MONTANARO: Look. Polls are snapshots in time. They're not meant to be predictive. And in 2 of the last 3 competitive Democratic races, the same person leading in the polls in both states a month out won the contest. But a caveat here - the results are often very different than those poll numbers a month earlier. And in 2004, Howard Dean was the one up by a lot. And John Kerry is the one who won.
KING: All right. Expect anything. NPR senior political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro. Thanks, Domenico.
MONTANARO: You're welcome.
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