President Trump's 2020 reelection campaign raises more than $30 million in the first quarter of 2019

Trump's total is about the size of what the top two Democratic fundraisers raised combined in the same time period

By Shira Tarlo
Published April 15, 2019 10:34AM (EDT)
Donald Trump speaks at a rally. (AP/Mark Humphrey)
Donald Trump speaks at a rally. (AP/Mark Humphrey)

President Donald Trump raked in more than $30 million for his re-election bid in the first three months of 2019, multiple news outlets reported on Sunday.

Nearly 99 percent of the donations in the first quarter were $200 or less, the campaign told the Associated Press, with an average contribution of just over $34. Additionally, Trump finished the quarter with more than $40 million cash on hand.

Trump's total is about the size of what the top two Democratic fundraisers raised combined in the first three months of the year. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont pulled in $18.2 million, while California Sen. Kamala Harris took in $12 million. Trump's record war chest gives him a significant financial edge ahead of the 2020 race as Democrats prepare for a messy primary now featuring almost 20 candidates.

Trump fundraising haul shows he "is in a vastly stronger position at this point than any previous incumbent president running for re-election and only continues to build momentum," the president's campaign manager Brad Parscale told the AP.

As Democratic Party begins what could be a highly-fractious presidential nominating contest, Trump benefits from the traditional advantages of incumbency, like near-universal name recognition, and his near complete control of the Republican Party.

In addition to direct donations to the campaign, Trump is raising money for the Republican National Committee, which brought in $45.8 million in the first quarter — it's "best non-election year total" — the AP reported. "Combined, the pro-Trump re-election effort is expected to have an eye-popping total of $82 million in the bank, with the campaign doubling what it had at the end of last year," according to NBC News.

Trump and the RNC are "practically one entity," CNN reported last month. "Under an unprecedented agreement announced earlier this year, the two merged their field operations and fundraising efforts and will share office space. Under this set up, the RNC will pay for and provide much of the infrastructure, and the Trump campaign will call the shots," the news outlet reported, calling the result a "presidential re-election campaign unlike any other at this early stage."

That is because Trump formally launched his reelection effort just hours after he was inaugurated on January 20, 2017, earlier than any incumbent has in prior years, and his team has been laying the groundwork across the country and driving donations from the president's avid base ever since. In contrast, former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama had been in office for more than two years before they filed for re-election.

"Trump's fundraising with the RNC is 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 AP reported, noting 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 gather contributions from their associates and present them to the campaign.)

The full disclosure for the Trump campaign, and for all the Democrats running for president in 2020, are due to the Federal Election Commission on Monday. Details about how much and where the campaign has spent so far will then become clear.

Shira Tarlo

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