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3 Campaigns With More Money Than Trump's: Sanders, Cruz And Even Carson

Yes, Trump gets lots of love from his supporters (like this one, Diana Brest of Phoenix, shown during a June 18 campaign rally). But kisses don't pay the bills.
Ralph Freso
Getty Images
Yes, Trump gets lots of love from his supporters (like this one, Diana Brest of Phoenix, shown during a June 18 campaign rally). But kisses don't pay the bills.

Donald Trump's latest fundraising figures are eye-popping.

No, not because they're great. Rather, they're abysmal. The fundraising gap between Trump and Hillary Clinton is the biggest disparity to kick off a campaign in recent history, as the New York Times reported.

All told, Trump received $3.1 million in individual contributions last month, compared with Clinton's $19.5 million. And in this election cycle, Clinton has raised $207 million in contributions. Trump has raised $17.1 million. Counting contributions and loans from committees and the candidates themselves (like the $45.7 million Trump has loaned to his campaign), it's still lopsided: $238 million to about $65 million.


More important, though, is what each campaign has left to spend. On that count, Trump's numbers look even worse. As of the end of May, he had $1.3 million in the bank. That means he had less at the end of May than Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders and Ben Carson, and only a little more than Carly Fiorina.

A reminder: Those people are not nominees for the presidency.A couple of them dropped out months ago.


We didn't even include Clinton on that chart, because her cash on hand at the end of May was so much higher, it made the rest of the chart unreadable. A chart with her figure is at right, though, for reference.

And it isn't that Clinton is in the fundraising stratosphere. At the end of May in 2008, Barack Obama had $43 million in the bank and John McCain had $31.6 million (these figures are not adjusted for inflation).

That's just one way of looking at the fundraising disparity between the two candidates. Here's another: Clinton has out-fundraised Trump by $173.6 million over the course of this entire election, as the Center for Public Integrity's Dave Levinthal reported Tuesday morning.

Or another way to look at it: Trump received $3.1 million in contributions last month. Clinton apparently raised $4.5 million in one day this week.

But this fundraising data is just one signifier of what many see as a campaign that is ill prepared to take on the Clinton machine. Trump's campaign, for example, had 69 full-time staffers to Clinton's 685 as of May, according to Politico.

It's true that Trump is clearly trying to play by different campaigning rules this year. He has preferred loud, showy rallies to the hand-shaking retail-politicking that takes place at VFWs and pizza places. He has called data an " overrated" feature of modern presidential campaigns. And the candidate has said he doesn't need the GOP's help; he even told the rest of the party to "be quiet" in a recent speech. And the massive levels of free media attention he has received have allowed him to run few ads thus far.

His ad-free plan of attack worked in the primaries, where he bought few TV ads and yet won decisively. In fact, he spent the least on ads per vote out of any GOP candidate, at around $2 per vote, according to an NPR analysis. Competitors like Chris Christie and Jeb Bush spent more than $200 per vote.

But he also had a widely fractured GOP field to compete against for much of the primaries. Now, he's in a mostly head-to-head matchup for the presidency.

It's true that Trump has remained competitive with Clinton thus far in this campaign, despite his lower spending levels. But his poll numbers are starting to flag.

Trump may well be ramping up his efforts already — on Tuesday morning, he sent out what he said was his campaign's first fundraising email ever.

But that shift in organizational strategy may have to come alongside a shift in messaging. Going into 2016, the Republican Party knew it had to win over women and Hispanics in particular, two groups among whom Trump has massive unfavorables. And Trump adviser Paul Manafort has reportedly asked Trump to act " more presidential." It's true that Trump could stand to amp up his fundraising. But bringing in the dollars is only part of winning.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Danielle Kurtzleben is a political correspondent assigned to NPR's Washington Desk. She appears on NPR shows, writes for the web, and is a regular on The NPR Politics Podcast. She is covering the 2020 presidential election, with particular focuses on on economic policy and gender politics.