President Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee absolutely crushed the president's prospective Democratic opponents in second quarter fundraising, according to internal reports from both entities.
Late last week, candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination began announcing their second quarter fundraising hauls, and for the most part, they seemed impressive.
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg — still a surprise contender for the nomination — took in more than $24 million in March, April, and May, tripling his first quarter haul of around $7 million. Former Vice President Joe Biden hasn't released official numbers yet, but his take is believed to also be in the tens of millions, earned mostly through the high-dollar fundraisers he's been attending instead of being on the campaign trail.
But late Tuesday, Trump's campaign announced that the sitting president raised approximately $54 million for his re-election campaign during the second quarter — a number nearly matched by the Republican National Committee, which announced in a companion press release that it has taken in around $51 million.
That means the president has around $105 million in his war chest going into the second half of 2019 — far more than any of his Democratic contenders, and more than enough to demonstrate a solid base of support heading into the fall.
Better still, it appears the president has raked in most of his cash from small-money donors. The campaign lists 725,000 individual donations with an average contribution of $4.
It's also important to note that the president's fundraising efforts are just beginning; Trump has yet to engage in any serious fundraising strategy or make overt efforts to solicit major donations from high-money donors. In fact, the president's official re-election campaign only kicked off late last month, so while the campaign has been collecting donations since Trump officially won his first term, real fundraising is only just starting in earnest.
All accounts seem to show the president will need everything he can get. So far, Trump is running neck-and-neck with the generic Democrat in key swing states like Wisconsin and Florida, and the Democratic Party is likely to learn from Hillary Clinton's 2016 mistakes, even if Hillary Clinton has not. It's unlikely any candidate will willfully ignore rust-belt swing states this time around, or cede Florida to the RNC.
But that said, the Democrats are still at a fundraising disadvantage, both individually and as a group.
A handful of the 20-something contenders for the Democratic nomination have been cagey about their second quarter takings. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders matched his first quarter, raising around $18 million, but that's not nearly enough to keep him in a highly competitive race. Former Texas Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke told reporters over the weekend that he couldn't remember how much his campaign had brought in during the second quarter — a sure sign that the one-time-wunderkind raised less than expected and may be on the verge of dropping out over lack of finances.
As a whole, the party is currently lagging behind, as well. Without a candidate or limited slate of candidates to rally behind, the Democratic National Committee won't be able to effectively raise money for its own war chest — a big problem, especially considering that the DNC has had difficulty raising any money since losing to Trump in 2016. There's no opportunity to set an agenda or target donors until the field is down from 20-plus candidates to five or six frontrunners.