Biden has $466 million in bank, and a huge financial edge on Trump

By Shain Goldmacher

Joe Biden’s campaign said Sunday that it entered September with $466 million in the bank together with the Democratic Party, providing Biden a vast financial advantage of about $141 million over President Donald Trump heading into the intense final stretch of the campaign.

The money edge is a complete reversal from this spring, when Biden emerged as the Democratic nominee and was $187 million behind Trump, who began raising money for his reelection shortly after he was inaugurated in 2017. But the combination of slower spending by Biden’s campaign in the spring, his record-setting fundraising over the summer — especially after he named Sen. Kamala Harris of California as his running mate — and heavy early spending by Trump has erased the president’s once-formidable financial lead.

Trump and his joint operations with the Republican National Committee entered September with $325 million, according to Trump’s communications director, Tim Murtaugh.

The Trump campaign pulled back on its television spending in August to conserve money, as some campaign insiders fretted about a cash crunch in the closing stretch of the campaign. But other officials argued that the Trump campaign would continue to raise heavily from small donors and that the cutbacks over the summer were shortsighted.

In the last four weeks of August, the Biden campaign spent $65.5 million on television advertising, compared with $18.7 million by the Trump campaign, according to data from Advertising Analytics.

Even after the reduction in TV ad spending, Federal Election Commission filings made public late Sunday showed Trump’s campaign committee ended August having raised $61.7 million and spent $61.2 million, along with adding about $900,000 in debt.

Money in the candidate’s own committees, as opposed to the political party’s account, is the most valuable of funds because election rules require those accounts to pay for certain types of spending, such as television ads.

Biden’s campaign committee reported raising $212 million and spending $130.3 million — banking more than $80 million last month.

Democratic donations surged further over the weekend. Following the death of former Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which opened a vacancy that could tilt the ideological bearing of the Supreme Court further to the right, contributors shattered records on ActBlue, the biggest online processing platform for the left.

Donors gave more than $100 million over the weekend after her passing.

Before the latest presidential disclosures were filed, some Republicans were questioning how a Trump campaign that has raised $1.3 billion since the beginning of 2019 with the Republican National Committee has already spent nearly $1 billion of those funds before the start of voting. Trump officials have repeatedly pointed to their bigger investment in ground operations (such as door-to-door canvassing) that Democrats have forgone during the pandemic as prudent spending that will provide a benefit as balloting begins.

“Our early investment in states is going to move the needle in a way that Joe Biden’s campaign just can’t do, even if they tried starting now,” Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager, told reporters this month.

An extraordinary influx of cash in August accounts for Biden’s newfound financial lead, after he and the Republicans entered the month nearly neck and neck. The Biden campaign and his joint operations with the Democratic National Committee raised a record $364.5 million last month — more than any previous candidate has raised in a single month — while Trump brought in $210 million, their campaigns said.

“It’s hard to even get your head around the size and historic nature of this,” Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, Biden’s campaign manager, said in a call with reporters this month. The cash-on-hand figure released by the campaign shows it spent about $192 million, barely over half of what it brought in last month.

“We’re going to have the resources, not just to go wide on our map but also to go deep within those states,” Dillon said of the Electoral College battlegrounds.

Billionaires and very wealthy supporters continue to exert their influence on the race through super PACs, which have no limits on giving. New filings showed Kelcy Warren, an oil pipeline billionaire, gave $10 million to a pro-Trump super PAC, America First Action, along with $2 million from Diane Hendricks, a Wisconsin billionaire, and $1 million from three others.

On the Democratic side, Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City who ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic presidential primary, recently announced he would spend $100 million supporting Biden in Florida, by far the largest and most expensive electoral prize. James Murdoch, the son of the Fox media mogul Rupert Murdoch, donated $300,000 in August to a pro-Biden super PAC, Unite the Country.

Monthly financial filings for both the Trump and Biden camps made on Sunday offered only a partial window into the state of the money race, as some of their joint committees with the parties will not have to file until next month.

On Sunday, the RNC reported a second payment of $666,666.67 to Reuters News & Media in August labeled “legal proceedings — IP resolution.” An identically sized and labeled payment was made in June. Reuters and the RNC previously declined to comment on the first such payment.

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