WASHINGTON, July 6, 2016 – Last month GOP strategist and fundraiser Austin Barbour said Donald Trump’s lack of fundraising “could have a devastating impact” on the Republican Party.
“If they don’t fix this in a massive way, it’s going to have widespread implications down the ballot. It just is,” Barbour said. “If he’s not raising hundreds of millions of dollars, there are gubernatorial races, Senate races, congressional races, attorney general races, you name it, that will be impacted. Those races are dependent upon get-out-the-vote efforts from the RNC and the presidential campaign.”
Trump seems to have put Barbour’s fears to rest, raising more than $26 million for his campaign and another $25 million in conjunction with the Republican National Committee in June for a total of more than $51 million raised in a relatively short period of time.
“We just started our fundraising efforts in the last week of May and we are extremely pleased with the broad-based support in the last five weeks for the Trump Campaign and Trump Victory,” campaign finance chairman Steve Mnuchin said in a statement. “We want to thank our many volunteers and contributors that are committed to electing Donald J. Trump as President in November.”
Democrat pundits will quickly point out this is far less than the $68.5 million Hillary Clinton collected in June, but when one considers that Trump’s primary campaign was significantly leaner than any other contender, it is probably more than enough.
One glaring area where money is not being spent by Trump is in TV advertising. Clinton has aired 20,000 TV ad spots since June 8, the day after she became the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee. Donald Trump has aired none.
In 2012, President Barack Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney, along with their super PACs, spent closer amounts on ads: $404 million for Obama and $492 million for Romney. But the question for any candidate is, who watches those ads?
Trump’s supporters are just as likely to be checking into the headlines via social media, including Twitter, and those who are more traditional media viewers are probably not going to find anything new, exciting or vote-worthy in ads put forth by Clinton, the DNC or their pacs.
Ads put into television programming may be dollars badly spent, which means Trump may have the upper hand in his use of resources. It is likely that the presumptive Republican nominee has a stable of media experts helping him to determine whether and when to spend money on advertising campaigns on network television.
June fundraising proves that Trump has the ability to quickly access large amounts of campaign funds. The campaign announced that in June, more than 400,000 supporters made contributions. Trump also contributed $3.8 million, bringing his total donations in June to $55 million, his campaign said.
The Trump campaign began their fund raising efforts by rolling out a series of emails asking supporters for donations and stating that the more than $50 million he had previously loaned his campaign were being converted into a loan, promising that campaign donations would not be used to cover the costs of the primary.
Speaking last month, Scott Reed, a veteran GOP operative and top strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said,
“While the finance numbers are weak, this is nothing a smart VP choice, an exciting, substantive convention and a strong first debate performance cannot overcome.”
The Trump campaign Federal Election Commission filing showed it brought in just $5.4 million in May, including a $2.2 million loan from the candidate. This produced fear among the party faithful that the funds would not be there to mount a solid campaign. There were warnings that Trump’s fundraising deficit might trickle down to hurt Republicans counting on a well-funded party to help out in down-ticket campaigns.
Trump responded to the criticism by saying that the lack of fund raising is a cause and effect of party leaders not supporting his candidacy. The billionaire nominee has also said he will self-fund his bid for the White House race, which would leave the GOP without the benefit of the many millions often raised for the Party by the presidential candidate.
Whether Trump needs to raise as much money as Clinton is questionable. The Clinton campaign raised approximately $288 million for her campaign by June, which was added to the $44 million she had in her campaign bank.
The RNC held 22 fundraising events in conjunction with Trump over the last five weeks, bringing in $25 million to the party. More GOP fundraisers are expected.