In this very early stage of a modern presidential campaign (at this point in 1999 George W. Bush hadn’t even announced), the surrounding daily tumult of taunts and overblown rhetoric, audio-enhanced by media desperate for click-worthy narratives, matter far less than the invisible votes of donors called dollar$.
We haven’t even had a single debate yet.
Those bagging the most money, especially the most money from donors giving less than $200, are deemed ahead with the most demonstrated grassroots support.
We will have a clearer picture of their combined standings after July 15 when each campaign’s second quarter financial numbers become available through the Federal Election Commission.
For those of us who live on a budget, the sums tossed about are astounding.The Republican National Committee and two Trump campaign funds had raised more than $100 million by the end of last year.
So, each candidate who did well will be leaking advance claims of donor largesse to jockey for a meaningless position even before the track’s first turn.
As expected, the incumbent president reported the largest sum so far, $24.8 million in the first 24 hours after his announcement in Orlando Tuesday.
That’s four times the size of Bernie Sanders’ first 24 hours. Trump’s victory fund and the Republican National Committee are teaming up to build a vast war chest.
The most closely-watched fundraising number will likely be Joe Biden’s as the first measurable sign of his political support and endurance.
Biden postponed the announcement until April to give his campaign a full quarter to build an impressive number to compete with the other 22 Democrats, many of whom who displayed money prowess in the opening weeks.
In the first quarter Bernie Sanders topped the field with an $18.2 million haul. Kamala Harris got $12 million, Robert Francis O’Rourke $9.4 million, Pete Buttigieg got $7 million.\
Others took in smaller sums, such as Elizabeth Warren’s $6 million, which without improvement could potentially endanger their political longevity come fall when ad spending starts climbing.
Biden’s first-day haul was $6.3 million.
Next week’s nationally-televised debates will be crucial for these campaigns. Listen for every single Democrat to somehow slip in their website address for last-minute boosts before June 30.
Of course, easy come easy go. By the end of last year Trump’s campaign alone had raised $67.5 million, which is impressive. However, it had already spent 83 percent of that, mostly on Trump’s favorite campaign tool–giant rallies.
The crowds’ vocal adoration (20,000 got inside for his Tuesday announcement) feeds his energy and rhetoric. But fact is, they are mere props for the even vaster audience watching the show on TV across the country.
Supporting GOP Senate candidates, Trump’s campaign staged and paid for 18 rallies in the 20 days before last fall’s midterm elections.