For Democrats bolstered by a sturdy primary field, consistently strong disapproval ratings of the president, and the early momentum of an impeachment inquiry, Republican fundraising totals for the third quarter are a reminder that a long and dogged fight awaits the candidate who survives for the general. From July 1 to September 30, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee raised $125 million; this year alone, they’ve pulled in over $300 million.
To put that into perspective, Trump’s 2016 campaign committee and associated PACs raised a little less than $450 million for the 2016 race. Trump’s totals after the third quarter are more than double what President Obama and the Democratic Party had this time in 2011, and the Democrat with the largest announced Q3 numbers is Bernie Sanders, with $25.3 million.
Not all of that cash will be sent Trump’s way: An RNC official speaking with NPR said that the committee has staff on the ground in 19 states prepared to defend the White House and attack House Democrats in swing districts they consider vulnerable due to impeachment. Last week, the RNC also announced a $2 million TV ad buy condemning the impeachment inquiry, and another $8 million to go after Joe Biden. The RNC is also out-raising the Democratic National Committee: According to the most recent disclosure forms from the end of August, the RNC had $53.8 million in cash on hand, compared to the DNC’s $8.2 million.
The Trump campaign has three fundraising factors going for them — the first being that they’re, more or less, the only game in town. (For the second quarter, the top five Democrats raised almost $96 million, compared to the Trump campaign’s $54 million.) Another component is the campaign’s willingness to accept corporate donors aligned with the president’s aggressive deregulation. As part of the Democratic Party’s shift leftward, Democrats have largely abstained from this cash — though the crowded field is proving that true abstinence is tough. And don’t forget the MAGA merch, which is big business for the president: One consultant estimates that 30 percent of campaign contributions in the midterm cycle came from supporters buying stuff like red hats and political novelty items.