Biden has surged ahead of Trump in donors – including in the states that matter most

The state of the presidential race has reversed dramatically this year, transforming Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden into a record-breaking fundraiser this cycle, despite his money lag during the primaries.

Biden’s fortunes began to change at the peak of the summer, when his campaign saw a big jump in the number of donors giving to him and to the Democratic Party. That’s thanks in part to his virtual fundraising strategy, which involved an aggressive schedule of online events with high-profile surrogates, making it possible for a donor to give more than $800,000 to support his bid.

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In July, donors from 36 states were mostly giving to his opponent, President Trump. But by September, that changed dramatically, with 41 states and D.C. mostly giving to Biden, comprising 2.2 million donors.

While Biden was slow to raise money during the primaries, he quickly outpaced Trump. The Democratic nominee and his associated committees have received donations from nearly 5.9 million people, while Trump has seen donations from 3.7 million donors, according to The Washington Post’s analysis of data from the Federal Election Commission between Jan. 1, 2020, and Oct. 14, 2020.

In many swing states, such as Pennsylvania, there was an uptick in the number of people giving to Biden.

Biden has surged in donors in every battleground state

Number of unique donors per week,
for Biden and Trump.

Charts are not on the same vertical scale, although each starts at zero.

The number of Biden donors in the state grew from 37,000 in July to in 91,200 in September. In contrast, Trump’s donor count grew from 39,000 to 43,600 during that period.

Trump, who amassed a historically large reelection money machine that has been fundraising since 2016, relied on his loyal base of online donors, holding intimate, high-dollar fundraisers for his wealthy donors sporadically throughout the summer and fall.

Once the Democratic money spigot started gushing for Biden, he broke records on the amount of money a presidential candidate raised in a single month. Two weeks before Election Day, Biden has a $118.4 million lead over Trump.

In August, Biden benefited from a surge in donations around the Democratic National Convention, the announcement of his vice-presidential pick, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) and the injection of cash from Harris’s robust network of wealthy donors.

Biden set a new record in September, raising the most money any presidential candidate had in a single month. A convergence of events that month led to a tsunami of donations: the death of liberal icon and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the much-anticipated first presidential debate and the end-of-quarter fundraising push, which typically generates a flurry of contributions.

Meanwhile, Trump saw two major fundraising spikes: on his birthday on June 14, and the July Fourth holiday.

[Donors to Democratic Senate hopefuls increased sevenfold after Ginsburg’s death]

About this story

This analysis combined Federal Election Commission filings from the Biden and Trump campaigns, their joint fundraising committees, the party committees and from the two main online donor platforms (ActBlue for Biden and WinRed for Trump). Donations made before Jan. 1, 2020, are excluded. Unique donor estimates were created based on a combination of donor name and Zip code.

Kevin Schaul is a senior graphics editor for The Washington Post. He covers national politics and public policy using data and visuals.
Anu Narayanswamy is the data reporter for the national political enterprise and accountability team at The Washington Post, with a focus on money and politics.
Lauren Tierney is a Graphics Reporter and cartographer at The Washington Post. Before joining the Post in 2017, she was a Graphics Editor at National Geographic Magazine.
Michelle Ye Hee Lee is a reporter on The Washington Post's national political enterprise and accountability team.