Boom: Trump outraises Dem rivals with $30M Q1; Update: Surpasses Obama?

As Mel Brooks once observed, “It’s good to be the king.” Or an incumbent president. But I repeat myself …

President Trump’s reelection campaign raised more than $30 million in the first three months of the year, far outpacing each of the top Democratic contenders who seek to oust him from office, according to a campaign official.

The campaign is set to submit its first-quarter financial data to the Federal Election Commission and will report cash on hand of $40.8 million, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss figures that are not yet public. …

The AP reported that the Republican National Committee brought in $45.8 million in the first quarter, bringing the joint pro-Trump effort’s cash on hand to $82 million.

That’s pretty impressive for a man whose aggregate job approval has barely gotten past 44% in the previous ninety days, and whose aggregate job disapproval has mainly remained above 52%. His rocky relationship with the electorate’s hearts doesn’t appear to have much impact on his relationship with its wallets.

That blows Trump far past Democrats — individually, anyway. ABC had noted that several Democrats reported “substantial totals” in Q1 despite the large field in which they compete. Bernie Sanders led the pack with $18.2 million, Kamala Harris $12 million, Robert “Beto” O’Rourke just under $10 million, and “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg $7 million, with other Democratic candidates falling below the Buttigieg Line.

Combined, however, the Democrats did pretty well against an incumbent president. The top four Democrats alone raised almost $47 million, almost 50% higher than Trump pulled in during the same period. Another $16 million from Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Cory Booker puts the haul for Democrats at more than double what Trump raised. Bear in mind too that Trump has been campaigning for the funds too, holding rallies at regular intervals as he has done throughout his term in office.

On that score, Trump’s campaign has more good news. Besides the RNC’s work on joint fundraising, which would generally focus on deep-pocket donors, the Trump campaign announced that it has expanded its small-donor base significantly too:

The FEC report once again highlights President Trump’s immense grassroots support among small donors. 98.79% of first quarter contributions to the Campaign and the joint committees came from “low-dollar” contributions, defined as $200 or less. The average donation to the Trump Campaign was $34.26.

President Trump’s support among small donors is further reflected in the fact that the Campaign, the RNC, and the joint fundraising committees have already enlisted 100,000 new small donors in 2019 and have acquired more than one million new small donors since Inauguration Day.

Democrats all claimed progress on this too, but it’s worth noting that some of those small donors may be putting cash into multiple primary campaigns, too. Trump can aggregate his small donors into a substantive claim, while Democrats can’t as easily do so. However, even with that in mind, Bernie Sanders’ 525,000 individual donors ($20 average) since February 19th far outshines the Trump campaign’s figures.

All of this awaits Joe Biden, who pointedly stayed out of the Q1 rat race. If he wants to jump into Q2 and compete with the fundraising on both sides of the aisle, he’d better announce very, very soon. Otherwise, he might want to wait until the end of Q2 and allow the Democrats in the race now to burn themselves out fighting each other. Why step onto a crowded stage now when Biden can wait until everyone else is so damaged that his party — and its donors — scream out for his intervention? Perhaps Biden might decide to wait until the end of Q3 to make a dramatic entry … and make the fundraising game irrelevant.

Update: One more point about comparing the totals. Presumably, Democrats are doing most of their fundraising for the primary cycle, if not all of it. Trump’s almost certainly directing a significant portion of his fundraising to the general election, since he’s not going to face a primary challenge.

Update: And here’s a little more context from CNN’s Manu Raju:

To be fair, though, Obama did all right once he started focusing on fundraising:

President Barack Obama, the last president to seek re-election, did not begin collecting money in earnest for his re-election until April 2011, and had less than $2 million in available cash at this point in the 2016 campaign. But he went on raise nearly $47 million during the first three months of actively campaigning for a second term.

Trump may have some catching up to do in Q2.

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