Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign has raised $18m dollars in new donations in the second quarter of 2019. It also transfered $6m from other campaign accounts, bringing its total cash generated in Q2 to $24m.

The numbers were released by Bernie's campaign manager Faiz Shakir during a conference call with reporters today (Tuesday). Shakir noted that 99% of these donations were less than $100 dollars, the average contribution being just $18 - even less than the famous $27 average amount of Bernie's 2016 run.

Importantly, none of the money was raised from big-dollar donors and courting special interests. Getting special interest money out of politics is one of Bernie's absolute top concerns - rightly so. It's the most dangerous and corrosive thing in the body politque, and has been for decades. The number one problem in America.

Bernie made and shattered records during his last presidential run when he also refused to take big money donations or super-PAC cash - yet outraising the Clinton machine, and taking in the most number of donations for a US political campaign up to that time, with over 8 million individual donations. No corrupting special interest money in sight.

And he's doing it again - at this time during the last presidential primary (Q2 of 2015), Bernie's total was $15,247,353.43. Far less than the $24m he has in total, now. And less still than the $30m that Shakir estimates the campaign will have at the end of the month. The total number of donations this quarter alone were over 1 million. So, so far, a huge improvement moneywsie on last time.

How did the other campaigns do? Well, they've not all reported in yet. But notably, Mayor Pete Buttigieg's campaign announced they had a total of $24.8 mill. More than Sanders. However, this number comes with a huge caveat.

Buttigieg, like many of the centrists - Biden, Beto, Harris all included, and more - take corrupting special interest money. They go round the big donors and ask them for huge donations, whether to their campaign or to a supporting super-PAC as organised by a (technically, though barely separated from the candidate at all) 3rd party representative. In return, the candidates do their bidding whilst in office. This is what nearly every politician in Washington does, whether in Congress or the White House, and many at the other levels and branches of government, too.

The average person, rightly so of course, absolutely hates this system and so candidates will do their best to hide from the fact they're corrupt, and pretend they're the people's candidate by hiding their association with their big backers. Beto famously for example wouldn't reveal at all how many donors he had - thus no sense of how many small or large donors - when he announced his first day campaign haul, way back.

The fundraising numbes of Buttigieg and others then should almost be disqualified as measures of support. Indeed, the millions of dollars they will have raised from big donors is still millions they can spend, and that's worth reporting - but it is no measure of public, average voter support. By definition, money that comes from just a few special interests is money that comes from just a few special interests - not from millions of ordinary people who are gonna turn up at the polls and make a voting difference.

For the media and others to pronounce campaigns popular because of their big donor numbers is not only false, it's dangerous, as it can give campaigns a false sense of strength and momentum that will convince average voters that the campaign's candidate is 'a winner'. And being a winner is very attractive, especially in an era when the top priority for most Democratic voters is picking a candidate they think can beat Trump.

So, the fact that Buttigieg (and potentially others) raised a lot is relevant in that they can spend that money on their war machines. But it absolutely is not a sign of their grassroots strength, and should not be reported as such.

So, if you're team Bernie or on the team of any of the progressive candidates, you should be thinking "these numbers are GREAT! But how can we make them excellent, because we're going to need them to be?" And particularly if you subtract the big donor money numbers from their totals for that of the other campaigns, then compare the numbers, you should be very pleased.

One day, money in politics will be near irrelevant, and ideas will be what matters.

Follow Polerium on Facebook and @polerium on Twitter for the hottest takes on US, UK, and global news, politics & current events.