Impeachment-um? Trump, RNC raise $60M in January

If Democrats thought that impeachment would damage the president, they now have sixty million reasons to rethink their strategy for the past year. Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee combined up for a $60 million haul in January, swelling the campaign cash on hand to over $200 million. This breaks a record set by Barack Obama and the DNC eight years ago — by doubling it:

The immense figures give Trump a strong financial advantage over Democrats, whose donors are more splintered as the party sorts out a crowded primary field. In contrast to Trump, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders outpaced Democrats when he raised $25 million in January. Trump’s reelection organization has fundraised more aggressively than any previous presidential reelection campaign at this stage, allowing the campaign to spend early on advertising and field efforts months before Democrats pick their nominee.

Within hours of the fundraising announcement, the President left the White House to visit his campaign staff and RNC officials at the campaign’s headquarters in Rosslyn, Virginia — the first time Trump has crossed the river into Virginia to visit the campaign’s offices there.

A campaign official told CNN the visit had been in the works for a while and that the President was greeting campaign staff and RNC officials and getting a general update on the effort to reelect him. While the Trump campaign is technically headquartered in New York, the campaign’s senior officials and the vast majority of its staff works out of the Rosslyn office.

All told, pro-Trump entities have raised more than $525 million since the start of 2019, which Trump campaign and RNC officials attributed in part to the impeachment process and say is positioning them for victory in November.

At the very least, impeachment doesn’t appear to be slowing the flow of cash into Trump/RNC coffers. We’ll get back to that in a moment, but let’s recall the analogous month from the last time an incumbent president fundraised in the January before the election. Not only did Trump more than double up Obama, he raised almost the same amount Obama had in the whole quarter preceding it:

President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign and its Democratic allies raised a combined $29.1 million in January, accelerating the fundraising pace as the White House race draws closer. …

Obama and Democrats supporting him raised more than $68 million in the final three months of last year, pushing the shared fundraising by his campaign and the Democratic National Committee to over $200 million for 2011.

A campaign spokesman said the January total included donations to the campaign, the DNC, and the joint fundraising committees, one shared with the DNC and the other with the state Democratic parties of several battleground states.

In other words, these are yuuuuge numbers in any context. Coming at the same time as Trump’s impeachment trial, they demonstrate that the attacks failed to land in any significant manner or undermine his support. One could read this as an explicit rebuke of impeachment, in fact.

Nor is that the only potential signal of a rebuke. For the first time in two years, the National Republican Congressional Committee outraised its Democratic counterpart in a monthly haul:

The NRCC outraised the DCCC last month for the first time in two years, a feat party operatives say is a sign that they are finally getting the hang of digital fundraising after years of being savaged by Democrats and ActBlue.

The NRCC’s $12.6 million January haul is its highest non-March haul in years. (The GOP campaign arm hosts its annual fundraising dinner every March.) Transfers from members and their leadership PACs were under $1 million, according to the committee. But $6.8 million of that total came from grassroots donations, via mail, phones and online — about $2 million more than December grassroots donations to the committee. This could be the impeachment boost that House Republicans were waiting for, or it could be fleeting now that the trial has concluded.

For comparison, the DCCC raised $12.1 million in January with $5.8 million of that coming from grassroots donations. But Democrats shouldn’t be too worried yet. One month doesn’t make a trend, and they certainly have a massive cash-on-hand advantage. Plus Democratic incumbents are raising unprecedented amounts of money. But the NRCC needs to see some kind of uptick to stay in the game.

House Republicans have already seen success from their attempts to grow their digital operation by investing in Google and Facebook ads to grow their email lists and consulting with Trump’s fundraising team. Their online fundraising total in 2019 was $22.6 million, up from $5.8 million in 2017, a 390 percent increase. Meanwhile, the DCCC raised $38 million online in the off-year.

Is this also impeachmentum? Politico’s Morning Score suggests it as a possibility, while noting that the improved online fundraising mechanics are playing a big role in the NRCC’s competitiveness. That may be too focused on the trees rather than the forest, however. If impeachment was working for Democrats, these fundraising numbers would be drying up as voters walk away from the GOP. Instead, Republicans appear to be finding more voters, more donors, and their voter base seems much more energized in January.

Maybe it’s not backfire — but it’s very clear that Democrats just spent a year on impeachment and got nothing at all out of it. Except, of course, an energized opponent base.