Trump announces $51 million in joint fundraising with RNC in June

The bad news? Romney raised $106 million in June 2012 and he did it under a campaign-finance regime that required smaller caps on large donations. Hillary Clinton and the DNC, meanwhile, managed $70 million in joint fundraising last month, which means that their financial lead over Trump is still expanding.

The good news? Trump’s in the game now. He raised an unbelievably pitiful $3.1 million in May, remember. This month, with a little effort and an online fundraising apparatus, he did 16 times that much. Total: $51 million.

In a statement, Trump’s campaign said $26 million went to the campaign, with the more than $25 million balance going to the RNC and other Republican groups. (The latter figure includes some money raised at his inaugural fundraisers at the end of May.) The campaign claims more than 400,000 supporters, with 94% donating under the $200 threshold required for individual disclosure.

Trump loaned his campaign at least $46 million through the end of May, according to Federal Election Commission filings. On June 23, his campaign released a statement that Trump has terminated the loan “in excess of $50 million dollars.” The Trump campaign said the candidate donated another $3.8 million to his campaign in June, bringing his total to $55 million.

There’s good news and bad news in that 94 percent figure too. On the one hand, it shows that Trump’s base is starting to pony up to help their guy. It also suggests, though, that he’s having trouble raking in big checks from rich donors that would make him more competitive with Hillary. In 2012, just 57 percent of Obama’s total fundraising came from donors contributing $200 or less; for Romney, the number was a minuscule 24 percent. Trump really is a populist candidate in his finances, for better and for worse.

With Team Trump having spent the last five weeks piling up millions, surely the time has come for some TV ads, right? Well…

Hillary Clinton has aired 20,000 TV ad spots since June 8, the day after she became the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee.

Donald Trump’s ad tally in that period: zero

Those figures don’t include ad spending by the candidates’ allied super PACs, either. Priorities USA Action, the primary super PAC backing Mrs. Clinton, has aired 11,500 ads since June 8, according to the Center for Public Integrity. Great America PAC, the most active pro-Trump group so far, has not aired any ads on broadcast or national cable TV, but has run ads on satellite and local cable TV, which Kantar does not track.

I can’t imagine why he’d be holding back unless he’s taking a strategic gamble that early ads won’t matter. Better to sit tight for now, let Hillary spend down her war chest, and then engage on more equal terms after the conventions. The risk is that, by letting Clinton push her message uninterrupted, Trump will end up being “defined” early in the minds of battleground voters and he’ll never recover. There is evidence that letting an opponent attack without retaliating will damage a candidate’s polling. The question is whether that damage is lasting or, if it happens early enough in the campaign, it’ll gradually be undone over time. Trump’s put himself in a position where he can’t do much except hope it’s the latter.

Trump skeptics are speculating on Twitter, incidentally, that $51 million isn’t the real number. This figure isn’t coming from the June FEC report, after all; it comes from Trump’s campaign. We won’t know if he’s telling the truth until July 20th, when the June report is officially released. Would a guy who’s been accused for years of exaggerating his net worth, and who’s refused to provide proof thus far that he really has forgiven his loans to his campaign, dare fudge the June fundraising numbers? I could understand him doing that if he was in danger of being dumped at the convention and needed to falsely inflate his fundraising numbers to reassure delegates, but there’s no realistic chance of that at this point. He’s going to be the nominee. And as I say, we’ll know the true number from the FEC itself just two weeks from now, meaning that a lie is guaranteed to be exposed and to humiliate Trump right as he’s accepting the nomination and expecting some good press. There’s nothing to be gained from lying about this. If he’s lying, he’s lying because he can’t help himself. Which, some anti-Trumpers will tell you, is him all over.