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President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden during the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, 2020 in Cleveland. (AP) President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden during the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, 2020 in Cleveland. (AP)

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden during the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, 2020 in Cleveland. (AP)

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson October 22, 2020

If Your Time is short

• For the first time since he became the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden has rocketed past President Donald Trump in fundraising and cash on hand.

• Biden has reversed prior Trump leads in both campaign fundraising and fundraising by the national party committee.

Over the past few weeks, the tide has turned in the presidential money race.

When we last looked at the state of 2020 fundraising, in early September, President Donald Trump and his allied organizations had raised $970 million, or 44% more than the $674 million raised by Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and the groups aligned with him.

But now, roughly six weeks later, it’s Biden who’s on top, $2.23 billion to $2.07 billion, a lead of about 8%. 

It’s been a striking comeback for the challenger, since Trump has been president for nearly four years and Biden secured his party’s nomination only a little over six months ago. 

This time advantage helped Trump jump out to a sizable fundraising lead by early 2020. But Biden has strengthened his standing in the polls and energized his Democratic base, enabling him to come back strong in fundraising during the late summer and early fall. Money poured into Biden’s coffers particularly when he named Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., as his running mate and when Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died.

The chart below combines three categories of fundraising for each side: dollars raised directly by the campaign; dollars raised by outside groups that are aligned with the campaign but operate independently; and dollars raised by the national party committees. We analyzed these three types of funds on the advice of campaign finance experts, who say it gives the broadest look at how well-funded each side is. The data comes from federal disclosure forms collected by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

 

The most recent figures show that Biden has managed to reverse prior Trump leads in both campaign fundraising and fundraising by the national party committee.

In addition, the sheer size of the two candidates’ hauls is notable. 

Both Biden and Trump have outpaced the two presidential campaigns of 2016, when Trump and opponent Hillary Clinton had raised only about half as much as this year’s hauls. 

In 2016, Clinton and her aligned groups had raised a total of $1.17 billion at this point in the campaign, which was modestly ahead of Trump and his aligned groups, with $957 million. (She still lost the election.)

 

The most dramatic indication of Biden’s money surge is in cash on hand, the amount of money raised that has not yet been spent.

In the most recent report, Biden and his aligned groups had $475 million in cash on hand, 49% more than the $319 million total for Trump and his allied groups.

It’s also a reversal from early September, when Trump’s cash pile was leading Biden’s by 53%, $256 million to $166.9 million.

 

This reversal comes amid news reports that the Trump campaign has done a poor job of money management. The impact of having fewer resources can be seen in the campaign’s scaling back of advertising buys in some key battleground states, such as Wisconsin and Ohio.

In our previous updates, we’ve cited experts who said that Biden’s failure at the time to match Trump’s fundraising totals might not matter as long as the Democrat was able to raise enough to remain competitive. Now, it’s Trump who has to ponder the same question.

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