The GOP’s money problem

President Joe Biden may not have control of his faculties, and his approval rating currently rivals that of flesh-eating bacteria, but that didn’t stop the 81-year-old president from raising a mountain of cash in January. The Biden campaign brought in $42 million last month, bringing its total cash on hand to a whopping $130 million, three times more than the Trump campaign has at its disposal. The campaign says this is the largest war chest of any Democratic presidential candidate in history. The president has raised over $278 million since he announced his reelection bid last April. 

The contrast is just as stark at the party level. The Democratic National Committee ended 2023 with $24 million cash on hand to the Republican National Committee’s $8 million, its worst fundraising haul since 2013. The RNC’s fundraising struggles could possibly improve with the impending departure of Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, but her replacement will likely be a Trump campaign insider.

The former president has endorsed his daughter-in-law Lara Trump for RNC co-chairwoman and his campaign co-manager Chris LaCivita for committee COO. The impact of these possible moves is anyone’s guess, but Lara Trump has pledged to “make sure that every single penny donated to the RNC goes to electing Donald Trump,” which, if taken literally, could mean disaster for down-ballot Republicans running in vital swing states and districts that will decide which party controls both houses of Congress. 

The Left’s strategy of financially hamstringing the 45th president’s campaign is working swimmingly. Activist New York Judge Arthur Engoron fined Trump $355 million in the lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who ran for office on the promise to “get” the former president. Of course, this is an absurd and unjust number, in a long line of absurd and unjust legal actions against Donald Trump, but unless the case is thrown out upon appeal, this represents another financial mountain for the Trump campaign to climb. 

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The former president’s Save America PAC has already covered over $40 million of Donald Trump’s legal bills and reported only $6.3 million cash on hand at the end of January. In the wake of the 2020 election, “stop the steal” efforts raised an alleged $250 million from Trump supporters. Donor fatigue would be a serious problem for the GOP in the face of this most recent Democratic fundraising haul, the vast majority of donations coming from small-dollar donors despite the current Cal Ripken-esque streak of bad news cycles for the president. 

Donald Trump has several built-in advantages this election cycle. Biden’s age, senility, and failures, from the botched Afghanistan withdrawal to the unprecedented invasion of the southern border, all present massive weaknesses for the president. But it still takes an exorbitant sum of money to win a general election. That cash has to come from somewhere, and I doubt Trump can foot the bill with sneaker sales

Brady Leonard (@bradyleonard) is a musician, political strategist, and host of The No Gimmicks Podcast.

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