Incumbent U.S. President Joe Biden raised $71 million with the help of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) during the third quarter of 2023 – an impressive sum for a candidate struggling to connect with the electorate. Biden’s campaign boasted his haul was “the highest total amassed by any Democratic candidate in history at this point in the cycle and is more than the entire GOP field combined.”
Biden’s skeleton-crew campaign has drawn the attention of national pundits, many of whom have asked if the understaffing is indicative of Biden’s desire to stand aside ahead of of the 2024 elections. While the president’s intentions are still not entirely clear, his frugality has resulted in the accumulation of a massive $91 million war chest.
Republican candidates combined still fall well short of Biden’s cash on hand at the end of the third quarter, but many candidates ensconced in the GOP field’s top tier of fundraisers were also in the top tier of spenders. Florida governor Ron DeSantis is a prime example of this, taking in just over $11 million this quarter – only to spend nearly everything he brought in.
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Given former president Donald Trump‘s significant lead in the GOP primary, DeSantis spent big in an attempt to narrow the gap – only to wind up downsizing his campaign staff and reducing his reliance on private air travel as stilted debate performances yielded a decline in both polling and fundraising throughout the quarter.
Nikki Haley, now well positioned as the GOP donor class’ top alternative to Trump, conserved cash in the third quarter while expanding her fundraising base. Haley now has $11.6 million to spend selling herself as the woman to unhorse Trump – who at the moment is retaining his firm grasp on the GOP’s reigns.
Trump’s substantial lead in the polls was reflected by the $24.5 million he raised during the third quarter – a figure which topped Haley and DeSantis’ combined hauls by more than $5 million. Trump now sits on a $37.5 million war chest heading into the final quarter of 2023.
The aforementioned financial reports account for funds donated directly to candidates. Funding tied to political action committees (PACs) are harder to trace – and disbursements from these entities are not always linked to a particular candidate or issue.
Conservative donor networks including the Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity Action (AFP) previously indicated their desire to support non-Trump candidates. An early 2023 memo authored by AFP CEO Emily Seidel clarified the powerful GOP donor network believes “the best thing for the country would be to have a president in 2025 who represents a new chapter.”
NBC recently reported that AFP Action spent $11 million running ads telling Republican voters that nominating Trump would guarantee a second term for Biden.
As primary elections draw closer by the day, (South Carolina’s GOP primary is on the 24th of February) GOP donors must decide if continued attacks on Trump are worth both the expense – and the chance of damaging the candidate who now seems most likely to lead the Republican ticket in 2024.
Should 2024 become a Trump-Biden rematch, it is unclear how individuals and institutions who’ve historically financially supported Republicans might spend. It’s entirely possible a second Biden term would be preferable to many of the mainstream GOP insiders who’ve spent enormous energy attempting to wrest back control of the party from MAGA populists in the wake of Trump’s barnstorming of the GOP in 2015.
To add to the uncertainty – Biden’s support, even within his own party, has only dwindled in recent months. There’s ample speculation on who the DNC might anoint to replace him in the event that the powers at be decide Biden doesn’t have another term in him, but make no mistake, whomever they choose will be well funded. Biden’s impressive third quarter is as much a victory for his party as himself, as his fundraising operation is driven by the DNC, and much of his war chest is in DNC controlled coffers.
Victory in an American election is never determined by one factor. Candidates need for the economy to go their way, for their affair to stay out of the headlines, and plenty of sheer luck to win an election. But one constant in modern American politics is the need for money to finance massive media blitzes in the weeks prior to voters taking to the polls. Count on FITSNews to continue to keep you informed of candidates cash reserves as the 2024 election approaches.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
(Via: Travis Bell)
Dylan Nolan is the director of special projects at FITSNews. He graduated from the Darla Moore school of business in 2021 with an accounting degree. Got a tip or story idea for Dylan? Email him here. You can also engage him socially @DNolan2000.
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