And it’s good news for more than one reason, although the current temperature of the electorate may not appreciate the nuances at the moment. The RNC set a record for off-year fundraising in 2015, chair Reince Priebus announced on Twitter earlier today, with a total haul of $105 million. The party entered 2016 with nearly $19 million in cash, too:
BREAKING: Historic year for @GOP. Raised off-year record $105.6M in 2015, $18.7M COH. We're the only org focused/ready for general election
— Reince Priebus (@Reince) January 27, 2016
Much of that came from smaller donors, according to The Hill’s sources:
An RNC source told The Hill via email that the party raised $10 million in December, with an average donation of $96.
“The RNC has out-raised the [Democratic National Committee] by roughly $70 million since Jan. 2013 despite not holding White House,” the source said.
The website Open Secrets has a slightly different figure — $95 million for the 2016 cycle, but with a very similar $18.3 million cash-on-hand, and only $1.8 million in debt. It’s possible that OS hasn’t caught up with the final filings for 2015 yet, so don’t take that as a definitive figure quite yet. [Update: An RNC source says that the final report will be filed with the FEC at the end of the month showing $10 million raised in December.] The comparison to the DNC’s performance, however, is still just as stark. In this cycle, the DNC raised far less ($59.9 million) and spent more than it took in ($61.9 million), and has more debt than cash-on-hand ($6.5M/$6.1M).
For that matter, the Democratic Party as a whole has similar woes. The GOP outraised them by five million dollars but have spent almost seven million less, and have an eight million dollar advantage in cash on hand, $60.5M/$52.1M. Democrats have four times as much debt ($18.4M) as Republicans ($4.3M), too. Things may certainly change in 2016, but the RNC and the GOP appear to be in good shape to fight up and down the ticket in this cycle, especially relative to their opponents.
Where has the money gone for the RNC? In part, it has built a ground organization that will exist for the presidential nominee after the convention, built by hard money rather than PACs. Priebus built this system to ensure that the GOP doesn’t get outfought on the ground, especially in key swing states. Part of my book Going Red, which comes out on April 12, details the effort, the need, and assessments of its effectiveness from those on the ground watching it. Being this far ahead on the financials while having readied this ground-game organization should be a coup for Priebus — assuming the nominee can effectively exploit it.
Here’s a good question: how long will Democrats keep Debbie Wasserman Schultz in charge while the party’s efforts lag further and further behind the GOP?