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Trump erases Biden’s cash advantage: 5 takeaways

Former President Trump significantly outraised President Biden last month thanks in part to a surge following Trump’s conviction in his first criminal trial in New York.

The Trump campaign advertised that more than $50 million flowed in to support him within a day after the verdict was announced, contributing to his total. May helped erase the cash advantage that Biden has enjoyed throughout the election cycle, though both candidates have a lot of money at their disposal.

Here are five takeaways from the campaigns’ Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings this month:

Trump outpaces Biden

Even as polling has shown the race either neck and neck or Trump slightly ahead in the key states that will likely decide the election, one bright spot for Biden has been his fundraising totals.


Not anymore.

That changed for the first time in April when Trump outraised Biden with $76 million to the incumbent’s $51 million. And Trump widened the difference much more significantly in May with a huge sum of $141 million to Biden’s $85 million.

Trump’s campaign, along with the Republican National Committee (RNC), received 2 million donations last month, a quarter of which were from first-time donors. Meanwhile, the Biden campaign said May was its operation’s best with recurring donors so far.

Trump also now has more money in the bank both in a direct comparison of the candidates’ campaigns and when taking into account the totals for the Republican and Democratic national committees. Filings from the FEC show that Trump and the RNC had $171 million in cash on hand, compared to $157 million for Biden and the Democratic National Committee.

Experts have noted that both candidates will have many millions of dollars to spend throughout their campaigns and a lack of funds will likely not be an issue, but these past two months mark a shift for Trump after having spent most of the election cycle trailing Biden in money.

Trump’s conviction supercharged donations

The first criminal conviction of a former president and presumptive major party presidential nominee last month was unprecedented in U.S. history, and the fundraising numbers on both sides reflected that.

About $53 million, or more than a third, of Trump’s total intake for May came through online donations in the 24 hours after the Manhattan jury found him guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records in his hush money case. It may be the only one of the four criminal trials that Trump is facing to happen before Election Day.

But even as Trump supporters rallied around him in response to the verdict, the Biden campaign also had a jump in its fundraising, with a source familiar with the matter having told The Hill that the campaign had its best fundraising hours to date after the jury revealed its verdict.

A verdict in one of Trump’s cases is of course an unusual event in the election calendar that may not reoccur if the other cases are delayed, but it was a major contributor to Trump’s ability to close the money gap overall.

Down-ballot fundraising is heating up

The battle for control of Congress is picking up at the same time as the presidential race, demonstrated by the amount that the parties’ House and Senate campaign arms raised last month.

Both the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) broke records for their totals in a month of May. But the NRCC had the edge over the DCCC for the first time this year last month, bringing in $12.6 million compared to $11.9 million.

The NRCC also seemed to get a boost from Trump’s conviction, raising more than $1 million from small-dollar donors in the following days. A third of them had not previously donated to the committee.

On the Senate side, the National Republican Senatorial Committee also topped the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) in May, $12.4 million to $10.6 million.

The Democratic committees still have more cash on hand though as June started. The DCCC led its Republican counterpart with $78.8 million to $64.9 million, while the DSCC led its counterpart with $48.3 million to $41 million.

Trump is holding on to a lot of his money

While Trump significantly outraised Biden in May, he also held on to his funds much more than Biden did, allowing him to enter June with more cash on hand.

FEC filings show Biden’s campaign spent $30.6 million last month compared to only $7.9 million that Trump has spent. The public won’t see the full spending from the candidates until next month when their joint fundraising committees, which bring together multiple campaign committees to a more streamlined entity to raise money, are required to submit their FEC filings for the second quarter of 2024.

The Biden campaign has said its spending is allowing it to build campaign infrastructure in key battleground states.

One ongoing financial issue that has been plaguing Trump for months and may continue has been the exorbitant amounts he has needed to spend on legal fees. Trump’s fundraising committees spent about $50 million in legal fees throughout 2023 and have spent millions more throughout this year.

It will continue to be a financial thorn in Trump’s side despite the large amounts he has raised recently, though holding on to his funds for now will allow him to concentrate them closer to the election.

Billionaires step in to plug fundraising holes

Although FEC regulations place limits on how much an individual can donate to a specific candidate’s campaign, they do not restrict people’s ability to donate to super PACs that support a candidate but act independently of the campaign. And wealthy individuals are showing a willingness to spend grand amounts on both sides.

One of the most significant contributions from last month was billionaire Timothy Mellon, who donated $50 million to a super PAC supporting Trump, MAGA Inc. Mellon made the donation on May 31, one day after the New York verdict was handed down, FEC filings show.

While Trump can’t direct where those funds go, they can be used to support his candidacy.

Biden is set to get a lift from billionaire philanthropist and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who reportedly donated $19 million to a super PAC supporting Biden called Future Forward. He also donated nearly $1 million to the Biden Victory Fund, Biden’s joint fundraising committee.

These funds and others from ultra-wealthy donors may not go directly to one campaign but do still contribute to advocating for or against a candidate.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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