WASHINGTON – After losing his cash gains, President Donald Trump has entered the final stages of his re-election race, facing a perfect storm of fundraising headwinds, with a base of big donors Included are those who are on the right most, who choose to sit sideways or move them. Resources for increasingly competitive Senate races.
Trump raised $ 210 million in August – as a large sum, but a decrease of more than $ 365 million from Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Despite the president having nearly three years of fundraising head on Biden, the two campaigns had almost the same amount of money left in their war chests at the end of July. Neither campaign has released its full financial filing for August.
Now, going into the final weeks of the race, several major Republican donors have reached the limit of how much they can legally give. Others are hesitant to give in only after burning $ 800 million through this cycle to enter major swing states nationally and in elections. At the same time, donors are being urged to contribute to a growing number of Republican senators facing a tough race, with many of 2016’s major Trump donors draining their resources from there.
“It’s crushing that the financial gains that we have completely evaporated,” said Dan Eberhardt, a prominent Republican donor. “I think this is a crushing blow to Trumpworld at the moment.”
A self-proclaimed billionaire, Trump said on Tuesday that he would be willing to put his money into the campaign if necessary – a move he made in 2016 that he used to build confidence about his prospects for victory. Bloomberg News first reported that Trump was discussing giving $ 100 million to his campaign. This is the same amount he promised in 2016, although his actual total contribution was $ 66 million, some of which were wired for the campaign only in the final days of the race.
Trump campaign officials say they have enough money to get through Election Day – including $ 200 million on ads where and how they are spending, reducing the importance of money in the race. Which they plan to run in the next two months. A person close to the Trump campaign said that even if the money was to win the race, both campaigns expected to spend more than $ 1 billion to reach one million voters in the battlegrounds.
“If money would have been the only factor determining the winners and losers in politics, we would have had Jeb Bush’s nominee in 2016 and President Clinton in the Oval Office right now,” campaign manager Bill Stephen said with a call Tuesday reporters.
But the campaign is acting like an operation stretched for resources, and one close to the re-election effort said a focus on how the money has been spent since he took over as campaign manager in July Was a change worth giving. The campaign has moved away from the airwaves to conserve cash and redirect dollars in two states’ major states to vote as soon as possible. It has cut spending on many small items, such as how many employees spend on travel and food.
“We’re managing the budget carefully now,” Stephen said. “I consider it as the most important, if not the most important task for a campaign manager. Creating and re-creating a budget was the first thing I did. “
Trump is using his gains as incumbent to save cash, as well. In choosing the White House for his conference speech, Trump said it was the most “cost-conscious” place. The president has also increasingly used taxpayer-paid official White House events to distribute attacks on Joe Biden – such as during a World War II visit last week in North Carolina – where his political activities would have stopped And begins his presidency. .
“You can’t underestimate us as a huge platform to get our message out and deliver a presidential message for free through regular press conferences, regular coverage of events, you can’t underestimate it,” the person Said the campaign closely. “It’s worth billions of dollars.”
Trump, who has not embraced a virtual fundraiser during the epidemic as his rival, will travel to Las Vegas, the hometown of Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, this weekend for a campaign to raise funds.
On Tuesday, he justified the massive wave of spending this year, tweeting that it was necessary to “combat fake news reporting” about the way coronoviruses were handled. A person close to the campaign suggested that Trump would be even more down in the elections were it not for the campaign the campaign defended him in the previous year.
But donors and strategists say they waste a lot of money, forcing them to consider places where their dollars might be better to use. A series of suspicious spending items, including a car and driver, have been chronicled for Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parschel this week, the New York Times reports, to prevent donors from secretly recording magnetic cellphone pouches At $ 110,000, Trump on legal bills and spend millions of dollars. .
“In this final phase, people will be ready to contribute at the last moment when they feel that it is a close race and they can change it. But right now, they don’t feel that it can make a difference and say: ‘Jeez, am I closing this toilet. Is it just going to legal bills? “Said a Republican strategist.
The strategist said that he had recently advised a client to use the money they were going to give at Trump’s convention rather than the Republican Senate race. Eberhardt said he is focusing his attention on the Senate and sees other donors doing the same. Many GOP senators are facing re-election bids on seats once considered safe, such as Sen. Joni Ernst in Iowa and Sen. Martha McSally in Arizona.
“I think the larger donors are focused on the Senate,” said Eobart. He said that as Biden continues to lead in the election, “donors are looking towards the Senate because we must do something.”
The National Republican Sanatorial Campaign Committee is looking at fluctuations in donations during the summer and excluding its Democratic counterpart from this electoral cycle as of the July elections.
These types of expenses, along with Trump’s summer turnout numbers, contributed to lower morale among donors. But the campaign is working to try to change that perception under Stephen.
“Two months ago the sentiment was very pessimistic among the donor class and it was not just limited to donors, it was operative, White House staff, a lot of people were not feeling great about where things were,” the person said. At the close of said campaign. “We’re getting out of the hole we were on in the summer.”
After nearly four years of fundraising, some small and medium-sized donors have reached the $ 2,800 limit they can give to the campaign. A letter from the FEC to the Trump Campaign List donors that exceeded their legal limit is more than 850 pages long, which is more than the Biden donors list that has been maximized.
According to the campaign through July, Republican mega-donors, some of whom gave huge amounts to Trump in 2016, have largely stuck around this for the time being.
Trump’s biggest donor since 2016, Robert Mercer, who gave $ 15.5 million in the previous cycle, has given just $ 360,000 to the campaign. Tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel, who gave Trump $ 1.25 million for the campaign in 2016, gave Trump’s campaign just $ 250,000 in 2018, while winning the Republican Senate nomination in Kansas this summer due to Chris Kobach spending nearly $ 1 million. Failed in And billionaire investor Carl Icahn and his wife, Gail Golden-Ikan, who donated $ 260,000 in 2016, contributed $ 4,760 as of July.
With large donors directing their cash elsewhere, the Trump campaign – which said August, which includes the GOP convention, was its biggest online fundraising month for re-election effort – increasingly relied on those smaller donors Has been abandoned.
But they have also hit a road there. In the past, the campaign used the president’s large rallies to collect donations from people waiting for the event to begin and to expand its database of small-dollar supporters. But with the epidemic, Trump is holding very small events, attracting fewer new potential backers.
The epidemic has put 27 million people out of work, and others feel financially secure, pressuring small donors.
The republican strategist said, “A waitress in a coffee shop is like $ 10 for them, $ 100,000 for Sheldon Adelson.” “They read about a boy with a car and a driver and see that the election process starts. There is a lot of sensitivity with small donors. “