We’ve reached an exciting milestone in the 2024 Presidential race: the first real fundraising reports.
Sure, some of these same campaigns already released reports during the first quarter of this year, but now we’ve got the full field of candidates, including (most importantly) the incumbent President.
To celebrate, I’ve put together this rundown of the reports from the major Presidential contenders. We’ll take a look at what they’ve raised, what they’ve spent, how much cash they have on hand, and what it all means right now. Remember, all these numbers cover the second quarter of 2023, which spanned April 1st to June 30th of this year.
So let’s dive in!
Democratic Candidates (in order of polling)
Cash on Hand: $20,125,373.93
Just a few days ago, Democrats were publicly fretting about President Biden’s re-election effort, worrying that they weren’t raising enough money or laying enough early groundwork. So the Biden team probably took particular pleasure shortly thereafter when they announced a joint fundraising total of $72 million, a sum far ahead of what Donald Trump and the rest of the Republican field were able to bring in.
Remember that the incumbent enjoys the advantage of raising money in cooperation with the DNC, which is where over $40 million of that total came from (there are actually quite a few committees involved). The campaign itself raised just under $20 million, and so far Biden is still behind the pace set by Trump and Obama at this point in their respective re-election races.
One area where Biden does hold a historical advantage is in his cash on hand total, which comes to $77 million all in. Of course, the reason Biden has so much cash handy is that he’s barely spent any of it staffing up his campaign yet. That’s one reason sympathetic Dems are worried, another being Biden’s relatively poor standing among small donors.
For now, with no serious primary challenger, the President’s numbers are perfectly satisfactory, although he must be able to scale up as the campaign continues. Biden did just that back in 2020, so his team is likely banking on another chance to prove the doubters wrong once again.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Cash on Hand: $4,519,477.46
For a long-shot candidate running his first campaign, these are decent numbers for RFK Jr. The controversial anti-vaccine advocate with the famous name has been doing interviews with every print outlet, news network and podcast host he can find, racking up hair-raising headlines along the way. While all this exposure helped him raise dough, it doesn’t provide a solution to the central issue of his campaign: he’s running in the Democratic Party, yet most of his support and money is coming from Republicans. Kennedy may very well not care, especially if he indeed is running as a kind of right-wing spoiler candidate. Of course, such an effort could easily backfire in the long run, as RFK Jr. is drawing resources from the same small donor base that the eventual GOP nominee will depend on.
Cash on Hand: $104,990.67
Chaos appears to be the norm for a Williamson campaign. Much like her 2020 effort, Williamson tends to make the most headlines with her treatment of the staff, and their inclination to leave at astonishing rates. Turns out that this degree of turnover is expensive, as most of Williamson’s meager funds went to paying a wide array of staffers. Furthermore, her campaign is deep in debt and she’s unwilling to pour in any more of her own funds. Finally, with Kennedy now in the race, she can’t even claim to be Biden’s top irritant anymore.
Republican Candidates (in order of polling)
Cash on Hand: $22,516,390.86
The ex-President doesn’t yet have the support of the RNC, but he does have a PAC that’s making a major contribution to his joint account. On top of the $17.7 million detailed above, his campaign is also transferring over an additional $15.1 million. Even so, Trump’s aggregate total of about $35 million is still less than half of Biden’s $72 million. The present situation is the inverse of 2019, when Trump was building up his war chest as Biden dealt with a large primary field. Now it’s Biden’s turn to take advantage of incumbency and its rich financial rewards.
Moreover, while Biden mostly saved his cash by only hiring a handful of staffers so far, Trump is burning through money on staff, consultants, travel, polling and advertising. In that sense, Trump’s profligate 2024 campaign is a continuation of his famously wasteful 2020 effort.
How can Trump manage to spend so much cash? It’s all made possible by the army of small donors that continue, despite everything, to support him. For instance, while Biden took in $10.2 million altogether from donors giving $200 or less – and DeSantis received only $2.8 million from such donors – Trump reportedly raised $14.6 million from small donors in the second quarter. Loyalty like that could certainly make the difference in this 2024 GOP primary.
Cash on Hand: $12,239,427.96
On paper, this should be an impressive result for DeSantis, as he even managed to outraise Trump (if you don’t count transfers from affiliated committees). Yet just beneath the surface are signs of why the Floridian’s campaign is in early crisis mode.
First of all, DeSantis is getting nowhere near the number of small donors that Trump’s managed to accumulate over the years, leaving him overly-relevant on big donors who already maxed out to his campaign in its opening days. Even more distressing, however, is the DeSantis team’s burn rate, which will force them to pare back and rely more on an affiliated Super PAC to lay the groundwork in Super Tuesday states.
In fact, this past weekend the campaign announced that they’re firing a dozen staffers with even more layoffs on the way. All this serves to show just what a struggle these first few months have been for DeSantis.
Cash on Hand: $1,094,389.75
To quote the great Bart Simpson: Ay, Caramba! The ex-Vice President posted an absolutely atrocious total that shocked political observers – with five Republican candidates who are polling behind him putting up better fundraising totals – suggesting that Pence’s already disappointing numbers are still inflated by name recognition.
Ultimately, it’s just tough to discern who Pence’s donor base could possibly be. After all, Trump devotees view him as a traitor for refusing to hand the election to Trump on January 6th, while Trump skeptics and Never-Trumpers are turned off by his far-right social and economic stances.
As a result, such a small donor base will imperial Pence’s ability to qualify for debates, and a similar third quarter showing will have pundits questioning whether he’ll even make it to Iowa.
Cash on Hand: $6,813,533.06
In the Battle of the Palmetto State, Senator Tim Scott finished just ahead of former Governor Nikki Haley, although Haley was at a bit of a disadvantage since this was her second quarter in the race and only the first for Scott. Haley’s also running a much leaner campaign than her home state rival at this point. Nevertheless, she should still easily make the debate stage, which isn’t something everyone on this list can say.
Cash on Hand: $21,106,870.02
DeSantis’ struggles may be Scott’s gains, as the South Carolina Senator is starting to win over some of the prominent donors DeSantis was previously courting. Still, Scott’s spending stands out as the Senator shelled out for advertising, consulting and polling. Luckily, he was able to transfer over $22 million from his Senate account, which explains that impressive cash on hand total that’s competing with Trump’s for the largest in the field. Look for Scott to take on DeSantis at next month’s debate, as he seeks to usurp the Floridian’s role as the leading Trump alternative.
Cash on Hand: $9,030,639.49
Oh, to be rich enough to be your own biggest donor. Vivek Ramaswamy is living that particular dream as he loaned himself $5 million, the bulk of his second quarter haul. As a matter of fact, since the start of his campaign, Vivek’s loaned his own campaign a massive $15.25 million. Much of this money has gone to consultants, advertising and direct mail as the little-known former hedge fund manager and pharma CEO seeks to turn himself into a known political commodity. Vivek is poised to qualify for the August 23rd debate, which will represent his best opportunity yet to increase that name ID.
Cash on Hand: $1,590,173.40
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s been pretty clear about the objective of his 2024 campaign: denying Donald Trump a second Presidential term. After strongly supporting Trump in 2016 and throughout his tenure, Christie finally turned against Trump after catching COVID at a White House event and nearly dying. He’s trying to raise just enough to get on the debate stage, where he pledges to roast Trump as a failure. Such a stance earned him $5,000 from the PAC of Republican January 6th Committee member Adam Kizinger. We’ll see if enough Never Trumpers can get him over the 40,000 donor debate threshold.
Cash on Hand: $378,677.55
Speaking of Trump critics in the 2024 Republican primary field, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson is Christie’s only real competition for this anti-Trump lane (depending on whether you count Pence). Hutchinson, however, is nowhere near as well-known as Christie, and therefore in real danger of missing the debate stage. Judging by these totals, Gov. Hutchinson might have a brighter future as a Trump-skeptical GOP cable news pundit than a Presidential also-ran.
Cash on Hand: $3,653,939.12
Finally, let’s finish up with Doug Burgum. Who’s Doug Burgum? Well, he’s the sitting Governor of North Dakota and a billionaire. Nonetheless, only the most dedicated of political junkies know that he’s in this race. After all, his polling is anemic and these totals are misleading, as Burgum loaned himself over $10 million. Yet his spending shows he’s taking this gambit seriously, even if few others are. In a bid to make the debate stage his campaign is offering $20 gift cards for $1 donations, although he’s still beneath the polling threshold. Ultimately, it’s tough to see a path forward for Gov. Burgum in this crowded field, although of course stranger things have happened.