As a fuller financial picture of the 2024 presidential race emerged with Saturday’s campaign filing deadline, problems seemed to lurk beneath the surface for Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida.
Despite a solid fundraising total of $20 million, DeSantis is spending hand in hand, and his reliance on big donors suggests a lack of grassroots support. Former President Donald Trump’s campaign logged $17.7 million in fundraising, nearly all of which was transferred from another committee that won’t report on its donors until later this month.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden, his joint fundraising committee and the Democratic National Committee have raised almost as much money as all of the Republican presidential candidates combined.
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Some of the lower-earning Republicans — like Nikki Haley, a former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador — appear to be enjoying strong support and lean campaign operations designed for the long haul. About a third of former Gov. Chris Christie’s $1.6 million haul from New Jersey came from small donors, which is high for Republicans and might speak for relatively broad appeal.
Warning signs have emerged for Republicans beyond DeSantis. Former Vice President Mike Pence has contributed a paltry $1.2 million in contributions, raising questions about whether he can draw significant support among Republicans.
Then there are the self-funded candidates, whose campaigns will last as long as they are willing to spend their own fortune – and for now at least, they are certainly spending a lot.
Here are some takeaways from the filings, which detail fundraising and spending from April 1 to June 30.
DeSantis depends on a lot of money…and he spends it quickly.
In the six weeks between entering the race and the end of the quarter, DeSantis has raised $19.7 million for his campaign, including $16.9 million from contributions over $200, a sign of his addiction to for significant contributions.
He also spends that money – quickly.
His filings on Saturday showed his campaign spent nearly $7.9 million over those six weeks. Major expenses included $1.3 million earmarked for travel (several vendors appear to be private jet charter services); more than $1 million for payroll; and more than $800,000 each for digital fundraising consulting, media placement and postage.
That’s a burn rate of about 40%, which is on the high end of other Republican candidates. South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott said he raised nearly $5.9 million in the second quarter and spent $6.7 million. But he had more than one cushion: He hauled $22 million from his Senate campaign into his presidential run.
DeSantis declared $12.2 million in cash at the end of June; Scott had $21 million. By comparison, Haley’s campaign brought in $5.3 million, spent $2.6 million, and brought in around $6.8 million in cash.
A full picture of Trump’s war chest is still unclear.
Trump is the uncontrollable leader in the polls of Republican candidates, and he has vast financial resources and fundraising ability. But its exact cash position is complicated.
This month, the Trump campaign said the former president raised more than $35 million in the second quarter through his Joint Fundraising Committee, which then funnels the money to his campaign and to a political action committee.
His campaign filing on Saturday reported a total of $17.7 million in revenue — which includes contributions, transfers and reimbursements — nearly all of which came from transfers from the Joint Fundraising Committee.
Where is the rest of the announced $35 million? The joint financing committee is not required to submit its report before the end of the month. The New York Times reported last month that Trump in recent months has directed more of the joint committee’s money to the PAC, which he has used to pay his legal bills.
Pence joins the stragglers.
Last of the Republican pack are former Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, who raised about $500,000 in the second quarter, and Will Hurd, a former congressman from Texas, who raised just $270,000.
While those long-term candidates weren’t expected to raise tons of money, observers might have expected more from Pence, who only brought in $1.2 million in contributions.
Pence also spent very little — just $74,000, according to his filing. His campaign did not say whether he had reached the 40,000 unique donor threshold, one of the requirements to appear on the Republican debate stage on Aug. 23.
Self-funded candidates also burn money.
On Friday, the campaign of Governor Doug Burgum of North Dakota, a wealthy former software engineer, filed its quarterly report, showing that it had raised $1.5 million in contributions and loaned $10 million to his campaign.
Burgum’s campaign spent more than $8.1 million last quarter, including $6 million on advertising, according to filings. He had $3.6 million in cash at the end of the month.
Another Republican candidate, wealthy entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, reported $2.3 million in contributions last quarter, as well as $5 million in loans from him. Ramaswamy has loaned his campaign $15.25 million since entering the race in February; he said he would spend $100 million of his own money on his bid.
He may need it if he maintains the expenses. He spent more than $8 million from April to June, including $1.5 million on media placements and hundreds of thousands of dollars on travel.
Biden’s campaign remains very small.
It was already apparent that the Biden campaign was running a small operation, but exactly how lean became clear on Saturday. By the end of June, the president’s re-election effort had a total of four employees.
Two other people were listed on Biden’s campaign expenses as consultants, one for communications and another as an accountant, but so far much of Biden’s still-nascent campaign is run by officials from the White House and the Democratic National Committee.
Biden’s campaign, the Democratic National Committee and its affiliate fundraising committees brought in a combined total of $77 million in cash at the end of June after raising $72 million during the three-month reporting period. . While the campaign has added a few staff since July 1, it plans to continue outsourcing much of its activity to the national committee.
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