President Donald Trump is presiding over a “money machine” and now has the most well-funded re-election campaign in history, according to fundraising numbers released last week.
Politico reports that Trump and the Republican National Coalition have raised more than $300 million, and the President alone has $158 million cash on hand to kick off his re-election bid, more than any other sitting president at this point in his campaign.
The numbers have Democrats worried, and at least one strategist told the Washington, D.C., based news outlet that, “[t]he resources he has will be put to work anywhere and everywhere that he feels like he can scare up electoral votes, and Democrats will never catch up. It’s just too much money.”
The Democratic presidential contenders, collectively, have outraised Trump, but as Democratic strategists point out, that money is going to cross-purposes. Each individual candidate is using their war chest to attack others, and there’s no guarantee that any candidate alone will be able to spark the same excitement alone as the field has, collectively.
The three candidates at the top have had difficulty raising from across the Democratic spectrum, for example. Former Vice President Joe Biden is reportedly “burning through funds” at too fast a rate to sustain his campaign into the general election, according to the Washington Examiner, spending 12% more than its taking in and 30% more than the campaign of Biden’s closest rival, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
But Warren has problems of her own. She’s cutting off high-dollar donors and refusing to appear at big money fundraisers, according to Variety Magazine — an approach that may win her fans among blue collar Democrats, but won’t help her fully fund a general election campaign.
“You can’t unilaterally disarm, especially considering the war chest that Donald Trump is going to have. You can’t go in as Grenada against the United States,” one Democratic strategist told the entertainment newsmagazine. “Elizabeth Warren has to figure out what is the best way to defeat Donald Trump, if she’s the nominee. If the best way is to get on the phone with somebody because you need that commercial time in Ohio, then that’s what you do.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is a proven fundraiser, but his appeal to mainstream Democrats is limited. And to make matters worse, one of the Democrats’ biggest donors, environmentalist and venture capitalist Tom Steyer, is running as a candidate for President and spending his cash on his own campaign (though he has pledged to give around $50 million to a Democratic war chest eventually).
Any Democrat that wants to compete with Trump will also have to raise the same amount of money — or more — in a much shorter period of time. If the nomination process goes down to the wire, the chosen Democratic nominee may have no more than a few months to knock out the sitting President, who is already running re-election ads in key states, a year ahead of the vote.
Trump is also, Politico reports, ahead of the game on donor identification. Since the re-election campaign began amassing in early 2019, it’s been running “an expensive, far-reaching effort to find new small-dollar donors,” and its working. In just the last fundraising quarter, Trump 2020 has identified more than 300,000 new donors for the cost of just $4.2 million.