The heat surrounding the 2020 presidential race has been dialled up, after it was revealed Donald Trump’s reelection campaign has raised almost 25 per cent more than money than Barack Obama had at this stage.
Reports detailing the fundraising efforts of various candidates for the second financial quarter, show Mr Trump and the Republicans raised a total of $105m. When Mr Obama ran for reelection in 2011 and 2012, he and the Democrats had collected $85m at this point.
“We’re still over a year from election day and we’re already SHATTERING expectations. We just raised a RECORD BREAKING $105 MILLION last quarter – a massive fundraising achievement that no 2020 Democrat can even try to match,” the president’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, said in an email to supporters.
“The Democrats are panicking. They’re calling on their MEGA HOLLYWOOD DONORS and their friends in the Swamp to bolster their campaign.”
The releases underscore how much money Mr Trump, with the advantage that comes of being the incumbent, is likely to have at his disposal as he prepares for a bitter reelection battle. In 2016, Democrat Hillary Clinton raised and spent around $1.4bn compared to the Republican’s $957m, but still ended up losing.
Reports say Democrats, with around two-dozen candidates seeking the nomination, are worried that huge sums will be spent in a costly primary battle, giving Mr Trump a considerable advantage going into the general election campaign.
There are already calls for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to step in an winnow the field before more money is wasted.
“The danger here is that Trump gets a free year to meddle,” Ben LaBolt, Mr Obama’s reelection campaign spokesman, told the Associated Press.
Second quarter fundraising numbers do not need to be reported to the Federal Election Commission until July 15, but often campaigns give an early glimpse if they have been good.
Among Democrats, only Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden have released their numbers, with the South Bend mayor collecting $24.8m, compared to $21.5m for the former vice president, and the Vermont senator’s $18m, to which he added $6m from other accounts.
Yet to be seen, are the figures from senator Kamala Harris, who saw a fundraising surge after she attacked Mr Biden in the first of the Democratic debates in Miami, and saw interest in her campaign soar.
Mr Sanders’ campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, attributed the campaign’s cash gulf to the senator’s rejection of high-dollar fundraisers, which Mr Buttigieg has accepted. Instead, the 77-year-old’s campaign is fuelled by small-dollar online donations from a blue-collar base, he said.
Democrats are claiming money is not the only factor at play.
“I don’t think money will decide this election,” Chris Korge, the new DNC finance chair, told the AP. “We have energy on our side that they don’t have on theirs.”
Larry Sabato, professor of politics at the University of Virginia, said it was always likely Mr Trump would raise more than he did in 2016, because his campaign then was in many ways disorganised.
“In the contest between votes and money, votes are the end, money is the means. You’d much rather have votes than money, though you’ll happily take both,” he told The Independent.
“[In this cycle,] most of the money spent will be wasted by both sides. Motivating the base is the key to the 2020 election. Turnout is going to be through the roof on both sides. Money can help motivate the base, but actually Trump is motivating the base on both sides.”
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