Yikes. A $300 million-plus haul is an impressive, record-shattering achievement for a single month, no matter the context. For a presidential ticket featuring their party’s biggest fundraising underperformers, it’s especially unexpected:
Joseph R. Biden Jr. is expected to report a record-breaking haul of donations for August, raising more than $300 million between his campaign and his shared committees with the Democratic Party, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The sum would shatter past monthly records as small donors have poured money into Mr. Biden’s coffers, especially since the selection of Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, and big contributors, from Silicon Valley to Wall Street, have given checks that can be as large as $620,000.
In a sign of the financial momentum behind Democrats, ActBlue, the main site that processes donations to the party, reported the second-biggest fund-raising day in its history on Monday, with more than $35 million donated. A majority of Mr. Biden’s August total came from online grass-roots donors, according to another person familiar with the figures.
This is far and away a new record for presidential campaigning, the New York Times notes, and it comes after Team Biden had finally achieved resource parity with Team Trump:
Any amount above $300 million would surpass previous monthly hauls by candidates of both parties. It is more, for instance, than what Donald J. Trump ($90 million) and Hillary Clinton ($143 million) raised in August 2016 — combined. Mr. Biden’s sum laps what is believed to be the previous monthly record of $193 million, set by then-candidate Barack Obama in September 2008, though there is no formal record-keeping.
In July, President Trump and the Republican National Committee out-raised Mr. Biden and the Democrats, $165 million to $140 million. Mr. Trump entered August with more than $300 million in the bank in tandem with the party; Mr. Biden had $294 million, according to the campaigns.
There hasn’t been any mention from Team Trump as to what to expect from their August report. However, the NYT does also note that the Trump/RNC effort edged the Biden/DNC fundraising during the convention, $76M/$70M. The final total is likely to be fairly grand, especially since Trump had been actually out on the road campaigning rather than remaining in place as Biden did this summer.
However, even if Biden trounces Trump in fundraising for August, one has to wonder how he plans to spend it. So far, it looks like Team Biden plans to exclusively employ a 30,000-foot strategy, with no ground GOTV operations and minimal travel by their ticket. With COVID-19 as context, some of that might be understandable to voters, but it’s far from optimal. It also does little to boost down-ticket candidates on the same ballot, not to mention that it basically emulates the Mitt-Hillary model that failed in 2012 and 2016. Team Trump and the RNC have been operating GOTV on a granular level for months, with Trump making personal appearances all over the country. If Team Biden plans to allow all that activity to go unanswered, then $3 billion won’t do them much good at this point.
Still, a $300 million haul is at least a measure of enthusiasm … of some sort. Did it come from a small cadre of wealthy donors, or an explosion of grassroots support? Given the records of Biden and Harris on fundraising, I suspect this is more a result of their decision to forego super-PACs, which means that all of these resources are simply the consolidated resource collection for the general election. That means that the campaign is controlling the spending decisions, and so far that means that they’re ignoring ground-level retail politics. How much more mileage will they get from that cash if it only means they’re buying even more national air time than they already have?
I discussed this story with Townhall’s Ellie Bufkin and Jazz Shaw earlier this afternoon on the Townhall “War for the White House” podcast, as well as a number of other election-related topics: