Media reports on the June fundraising totals would have you believe that Joe Biden “tops” or “beats” President Trump. However, whoever is running Biden’s campaign better keep the corks in the champagne bottles because the truth is June was a terrible month for Biden and the Democratic Party.
Joe Biden was an anemic fundraiser throughout his primary battle. A report from Politico in October 2019 said Biden was getting “crushed” in fundraising. It argued, “Obama and Clinton’s biggest donors favor Biden, yet he still can’t match his rivals’ cash flow.” According to the report, Biden had more big-money bundlers and donors from Obama and Clinton than any of his competitors. Now, as the presumptive nominee, the rest should presumably be in his corner, as well.
However, during a primary, the value of big donors and high-dollar bundlers is greatly reduced by federal contribution limits — it was why Biden consistently struggled, and it was why Bernie Sanders’ grassroots dollars made him such a prolific fundraiser. Biden, along with every other candidate, was limited to receiving a maximum of $5,600 from an individual or $11,200 from a couple.
That changed in mid-May, after Biden secured enough delegates to become the presumptive nominee. This status allowed the Biden campaign to create a joint fundraising agreement with the Democratic National Committee and various other committees and state parties. After inking this contract with the DNC and 26 state Democratic Party organizations, “The Biden Victory Fund” took the $5,600 contribution cap and expanded it more than 100-fold — the new committee can now accept up to $620,600 per person. Every dollar after the initial $5,600 that is given to the campaign is then shared with the DNC and various organizations that are all organizing in support of Biden’s candidacy.
Historically, this has been a huge moment for presidential campaigns. In 2012, when Mitt Romney became the presumptive nominee and formed the joint fundraising committee “Romney Victory,” he raised $106 million to Obama’s $71 million. The $35-million margin represented a 66% increase over Obama — who of course went on to win decisively. The limits for Romney Victory, however, were $75,800 per person compared to the Biden Victory Fund’s $620,600 per-person limit.
With June being the first month of a massively expanded fundraising pool, one would have expected the billionaires to jump in with huge checks — after all, that is who Biden built his campaign around. It was reasonable to expect that Biden would try to replicate the fundraising romps of establishment candidates before him, such as Romney or John Kerry — which would have translated to a $220-million-to-$260-million month.
Instead, Biden’s committee reported raising just $141 million to the Trump campaign’s $131 million in June. That $10 million margin is a mere 7% gap — and nowhere near enough to make a noticeable impact on the president’s enormous cash-on-hand advantage. Again, in the first month as the presumptive nominee, John Kerry outraised President Bush by 100% and Romney outraised President Obama by 66%.
This modest haul nonetheless required a substantial amount of effort. Biden brought in the Democratic Party’s top fundraising heavyweights: former President Obama and Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. He also leaned on Hollywood elites such as Melissa Etheridge and Kristin Chenoweth to help prop up his fundraising. Some of the most prolific Democratic money people all hosted events for Biden, as well. It appeared to be a truly Herculean effort.
Meanwhile, President Trump held just two fundraising events in the entire month of June, during which his primary focus remained on safely reopening the country and combating flare-ups of the coronavirus. Despite that meager effort, and with nearly $300 million cash on hand and a campaign that is rapidly approaching $1 billion raised in total, President Trump’s fundraising numbers continue to grow.
The simple reality is that Joe Biden is failing to capture the enthusiasm of his own supporters, let alone the undecided voters whose support he will need to be successful in November. The reality of Biden’s predicament becomes even more dire when you realize this enthusiasm gap is reminiscent of the lukewarm feelings inspired by Romney and Kerry, two of the most milquetoast candidates in the history of presidential campaigns.
Biden’s fundraising numbers aren’t impressive. They’re an S.O.S.