President Biden’s campaign announced raising $71 million in the third fundraising quarter of the year, giving him a significant advantage over the current Republican field while falling short of the inflation-adjusted hauls of Barack Obama and Donald Trump at the same point in their reelection efforts.
Incumbent presidents hold significant advantages in the off year of their reelection bids, as typically they alone can raise money in large checks from wealthy donors in partnership with national and state parties. Sums as large as $929,000 are permitted in the case of Biden’s effort.
By comparison, the Trump campaign has said it raised $45.5 million during the same period this year, while the campaign of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) raised $15 million. Biden’s $71 million haul includes money from his campaign, the Democratic National Committee and three joint fundraising committees, which can all be used to support Biden’s reelection effort.
Biden campaign officials, who raised $72 million in the second quarter, briefed reporters on some parts of the fundraising results ahead of their official filings with the Federal Election Commission Sunday night. They declined to break out how much money went directly to the campaign or how much money the affiliated groups spent between July and September — information that will become public in filings Sunday night.
A Biden adviser said that from April to June, the grass-roots fundraising program made up about one-third of the entire amount raised. Between July to September, 49 percent of revenue came from the grass-roots program. A Biden team member said that number outperformed expectations of about 36 percent to 37 percent coming from the smaller-dollar program in the third quarter.
“We are especially proud of our efforts to exponentially grow our grassroots donor base, now having over a hundred thousand Americans signed up to donate on a recurring basis from now until Election Day,” campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez said in a statement. “These numbers are a testament to one of our core objectives early in this campaign: raise the resources needed to run an aggressive campaign that will win in November 2024.”
Biden’s campaign advisers said they had more than 493,000 donors making 843,000 donations during the quarter. The campaign said that they have over 240,000 donors this cycle who did not give any money to Biden in his 2020 race.
One promotional effort to sell “Dark Brandon” color-changing mugs, with an image of Biden that switches when filled with a hot beverage from wearing sunglasses to showing red laser eyes, raised $2 million since August, the campaign said. (The meme is a pro-Biden twist on the “Let’s Go Brandon” theme used by Republicans, which refers to an anti-Biden chant that was misheard by a reporter.) Separate fundraising contests to meet Biden or Obama raised $2.5 million.
The Biden haul roughly matches the $70.1 million that Obama raised during the same period in 2011, but falls short in inflation-adjusted terms. To have the same spending power as $70.1 million in 2011, Biden and his allies would need to raise $95 million in today’s dollars, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Biden campaign team said their cash on hand of the various committees at the end of the quarter, $91 million, was higher than the $76 million that the Obama campaign had in the bank at the same point in his reelection effort. In inflation-adjusted terms, Obama had slightly more spending power at the same point in his campaign.
Trump raised $125 million in the third quarter of 2019, which holds a buying power of about $149.5 million in today’s dollars. But Biden campaign advisers suggested that they are not repeating the aggressive spending tactics that Trump employed at that point in his campaign to raise money.
Biden has opted to build a smaller campaign operation in the first months of his reelection effort, while investing more than either Trump or Obama in paid advertising, with a $25 million advertising budget between August and December, most of which is being paid for directly by the campaign.
“The gossip, chatter, angst, beltway cable talking heads are once again misunderstanding and underestimating Joe Biden,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg, a co-chair of the Biden campaign. “You cannot deny the power of 840,000 people at this moment in time showing up in a real way and financially supporting and backing his reelection.”