President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign and its affiliates have brought in more money from donors than Joe Biden’s side in the past two years, but they’ve also spent more, so the Democratic effort started this month with a cash advantage.
That’s shown in the chart below, which is based on the latest disclosures.
Biden’s side has raised $1.74 billion and spent $1.32 billion in two years, meaning there was around $420 million left as of Sept. 30 — or about $430 million when including cash on hand as 2019 began. Meanwhile, Trump’s side has brought in $2.06 billion and shelled out $1.87 billion, meaning there was around $190 million remaining — or about $250 million when including cash on hand as 2019 started.
A campaign’s financial status is a closely watched measure of viability, along with polling data, where Biden also has the advantage.
The Trump campaign’s big spending has drawn flak, with Mike Murphy, a veteran Republican consultant and outspoken Trump critic, telling the Associated Press that “10 monkeys with flamethrowers” going after the money “wouldn’t have burned through it as stupidly.”
But a Trump campaign spokesman has said that as the White House race hits its final stretch, the president’s team has the “strength, resources, record & huge ground game needed” to win. And 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton had a sizable money advantage over Trump but didn’t become president.
The totals shown here are based on filings this month by the two politician’s principal campaign committees and their joint fundraising committees with their respective parties (the Biden Victory Fund, the Biden Action Fund, the Trump Victory Committee and the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, also known as TMAGAC or T-Magic). They also include the Democratic National Committee’s and the Republican National Committee’s figures for fundraising, spending and cash on hand, even as the main party committees are supporting not only their presidential candidates, but their Congressional candidates as well.
Overall spending in this year’s elections — with the White House as well as House and Senate seats at stake — will approach a record $11 billion, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit group that tracks money in politics. That would easily top the $7 billion spent in today’s dollars in the 2016 elections.
Beyond the outlays by Biden and Trump’s main campaign committees, their joint fundraising committees, the DNC and the RNC, there are super PACs and other outside groups combining to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in an effort to influence the outcome of the White House contest. They range from pro-Biden super PACs like Priorities USA Action and the Lincoln Project to pro-Trump groups like America First Action and Preserve America.
During the battle to become the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nominee, Biden lagged behind his top rivals in the contest’s money race. But more recently, the former vice president managed to outpace Trump’s fundraising in August and September, though Trump scored more donations in July.
If there are leftover funds, candidates are allowed to make contributions to political allies, spend the residual cash on winding down their campaign operations, donate to charity or use the money on a different run for federal office, but they can’t put the funds toward personal expenses.
In a RealClearPolitics average of polls as of Wednesday, Biden is leading Trump by 4.0 percentage points in top swing states that are likely to decide the Nov. 3 election. Trump also often touts the performance of the stock market, and the S&P 500
is up nearly 7% for the year and notched an all-time high on Sept. 2.