Trump’s Fundraising Haul Is Reshaping the Race

News & Politics

I was wrong.

Well, maybe not “wrong.” More like “not entirely accurate.” Oh, let’s just go ahead and admit I was blatantly, stupidly, idiotically wrong about Trump not being able to catch up with Joe Biden’s fundraising before Election Day.

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Trump’s conviction has unleashed a cash tsunami that has closed the fundraising gap with Joe Biden in one fell swoop. 

The numbers are unbelievable. Trump outraised Biden by $60 million in May. The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee said it raised a staggering $141 million in May. Most importantly, the Trump campaign now has a healthy $170 million in the bank at the end of May.

The Trump campaign said it raised $53 million online in the 24 hours after the so-called hush money verdict. Those numbers won’t be verifiable until the online fundraising site WinRed files its FEC report in July.

Trump’s super PAC, “MAGA, Inc., benefitted from a one-time donation from Timothy Mellon of $50 million. MAGA Inc. raised $69 million in May — its best fundraising month of the cycle — and reported $94 million in cash on hand,” according to the Washington Post.

So both candidates have ungodly amounts of cash on hand, and both appear to have hit their stride in fundraising. What are they going to do with all this money?

Joe Biden spent $50 million on an ad campaign that Democratic strategist Steve Schmidt said looks like it was “written by a committee of chat GPTS.” But Biden just hired 1,000 people to staff 200 new offices around the country. Trump is far behind in building a national organization.

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The Trump campaign says it has dozens of offices across the battleground states that are operated in coordination with the Republican National Committee, but it has declined to detail the scale of its operation other than to say they have an extensive paid and volunteer operation that is “expanding daily.” The Trump campaign had not aired a single general-election ad on television as of Thursday, according to AdImpact.

Trump campaign advisers have said that they are building a leaner, more efficient operation than in previous cycles and that they will rely on outside groups to supplement their ground game. But Dan Kanninen, the Biden campaign’s battleground states director, pointed to the infrastructure discrepancy on Thursday.

“With just over four months until the election, Donald Trump couldn’t match our battleground infrastructure if he tried,” Kanninen said in a statement. “While Trump’s team is desperately trying to spin their lack of infrastructure as ‘strategic,’ the bottom line is that Donald Trump cannot buy back the time he has lost — and invisible campaigns don’t win.”

Indeed, Trump doesn’t need cash for advertising right now. He gets gobs of free air time and coverage every time he opens his mouth. When people start really paying attention to politics after Labor Day, Trump will have plenty of cash to blanket the airwaves and social media sites online.

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But Kanninen is right. You can’t replace boots on the ground. And to build that army, it takes time. There are few shortcuts that Trump can take to get offices up and running in key precincts in battleground states.

Trump will benefit from his strategic partnership with the RNC. They will be able to take some of the scut work off his campaign’s hands by hiring professionals and attracting volunteers to flesh out the campaign offices. 

To be sure, it’s a disadvantage now. But it’s not going to hinder his campaign much. And by Election Day, it won’t matter at all.

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