The Trump campaign said nearly 99 percent of its donations were of $200 or less, with an average donation of $34.26. In all, the campaign had $40.8 million cash on hand, an unprecedented war chest for an incumbent president this early in the campaign.
Trump’s fundraising ability was matched by the Republican National Committee, which brought in $45.8 million in the first quarter — its highest non-election year total. Combined, the pro-Trump effort reported $82 million in the bank. The numbers were reported first by The Associated Press.
Trump formally launched his reelection effort just hours after taking office in 2017, earlier than any incumbent had in prior years. By contrast, former President Barack Obama launched his 2012 effort in April 2011 and had under $2 million on hand at this point in the campaign. Obama went on to raise more than $720 million for his reelection. Trump’s reelection effort has set a $1 billion target for 2020.
Among Trump’s would-be Democratic challengers, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was leading the money race after taking in $18.2 million in the first quarter of this year. He was followed by California Sen. Kamala Harris, with $12 million. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke ($9.4 million), South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg ($7 million) and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren ($6 million) rounded out the top five fundraisers among Democrats.
Trump’s fundraising with the RNC has been divided between two entities: Trump Victory, the joint account used for high-dollar gifts, and the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, the low-dollar digital fundraising operation known internally as “T-Magic.” The campaign is set to launch a traditional “bundling” program — which it lacked in 2016 — in the coming weeks. Bundlers are mid-tier donors who bring in contributions from their associates.
Together, the Trump entities have raised a combined $165.5 million since 2017.
Trump is benefiting from the advantages of incumbency, like universal name recognition and his unrivaled position atop the Republican Party.
Republicans have trailed Democrats in online fundraising ever since the medium was invented roughly two decades ago. However, Trump has closed the gap, driving small-dollar donors who make recurring donations to the GOP at rates the party has never seen before. According to RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, Trump’s campaign already has seen eight seven-figure fundraising days this year and has taken in money from over 1 million new online donors since Trump’s inauguration — including 100,000 this year.
The RNC said it was planning on spending $30 million on maintaining and growing Trump’s email list alone, recently expanded its headquarters space to an annex in Virginia and will soon invest in developing an app.
In 2015, Trump swore off outside money, declaring in his opening speech: “I’m using my own money. I’m not using the lobbyists’. I’m not using donors’. I don’t care. I’m really rich.”
He quickly reversed course on high-dollar donations after he won the GOP nomination, bowing to the financial pressures of running a general-election campaign. He’d already raised millions online through the sale of merchandise such as his signature red “Make America Great Again” hats.
Trump gave or loaned $66 million to his 2016 campaign but has yet to spend any of his own cash for his reelection effort. Aides have said they don’t expect that to change.
Fox News’ Kellianne Jones and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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