“The hurrier I go,” a quote often (and apparently apocryphally) attributed to Lewis Carroll laments, “the behinder I get.” That might describe the feelings at Team Trump over the new fundraising numbers from June. Late yesterday afternoon, their FEC filing confirmed that they had righted the ship in June with $26.7 million. Politico notes that their $22.5 million cash on hand at the start of July puts them nearly on par on cash with Mitt Romney four years ago:
The Trump campaign dramatically improved its financial position in June, ending the month with $20.2 million cash on hand.
The latest campaign finance report, filed on Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission, must be a huge relief to Republicans after the prior month’s dismal $1.3 million cash position sparked widespread panic and dismay. The turnaround is also welcome news for a campaign still finding its footage in the middle of a turbulent convention week.
One of the big questions in Trump’s fundraising was whether he had turned his personal loans into donations. Donors had balked earlier at engagement with the loans still in place, worried that their own cash would end up getting into Trump’s pockets eventually to pay off the loans. The FEC filing shows that Trump converted the loans in June as promised, leaving the door open for donors to pitch in.
The spending, however, might still be a problem. They only spent less than $8 million, a paltry sum in presidential campaigns these days, and not much of it went to traditional expenses:
Digital consulting and online advertising was the biggest expense, with $1.6 million paid to the San Antonio web design firm Giles-Parscale. The campaign paid almost $545,000 to the Prosper Group for fundraising consulting and spent $432,000 on field consulting to more than a dozen outfits. The payroll grew slightly, to 74.
The campaign spent just $3,000 on placed media, a tack that continues to confound campaign veterans as Clinton and her allies reserve millions of dollars in ads. The report also showed no spending on polling or research and only a few thousand dollars on data.
No money on polling or research? The campaign has insisted it has seen momentum in places like Connecticut, Michigan, New York, and Wisconsin, places where public polling shows little evidence of such movement. The presumption was that the campaign was relying on its own internal polling, as problematic as that can be. (Ask Team Romney, for instance.) But if they’re not doing any of their own polling, then they’re only seeing the same public polling as everyone else … which means they’re either wish-casting or want everyone else to be about momentum.
That gets compounded by the lack of money spent on voter data. The RNC has resources for that which Team Trump will be able to access, but that’s not enough. A campaign has to have its own data operations too and orient itself to using them effectively.
Having a big boost in cash on hand is good news, but not if it comes because the campaign won’t spend money on essentials.
On top of that, Hillary Clinton’s FEC report shows her almost doubling up Trump in the checkbook ledger:
Clinton’s campaign raised a total of $36.4 million for the month and has $44.4 million on hand.
She spent $34.5 million during the month.
Hillary’s going up on air in several states (including Minnesota, where she’s almost certainly safe), and it’s a safe bet that Team Hillary is building their own data operations, too. Team Trump is finding themselves behinder in more ways than one.