Hillary Clinton’s skill and experience in raising money have provided her with a dominant financial lead over her Democratic and Republican rivals, according to the latest Federal Election Commission reports.
Filings for the month of April show that Clinton and her remaining competitor for the Democratic Party nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), raised about the same amount of money, each reporting receipts topping $26 million. But Sanders was spending money at a far greater rate and had just $5.8 million on hand at the end of the month, compared with Clinton’s reported cash on hand of $30 million.
Meanwhile, the reports laid bare the challenge facing Donald Trump, who is now focused on the general election. Clinton has far outpaced Trump in spending to build a campaign infrastructure and in building financial reserves for the long race to Election Day in November. Each campaign is expected to spend $1 billion or more in their quest to win the White House.
Running as a self-funded candidate not beholden to traditional donors, Trump has so far raised and spent less than many of his Republican opponents and far less than Clinton. All told, Trump and his supporters have raised about $59.4 million so far, compared with Clinton’s total of nearly $300 million. Most of Trump’s money has come from loans he made to the campaign, totaling $43.4 million, including $7.5 million in April alone. Clinton and Sanders have each spent close to $200 million, compared with $56.5 million by Trump.
Clinton’s contribution total includes $81.4 million raised by independent groups supporting her candidacy, with most of the money coming from one super PAC, Priorities USA Action.
Since becoming the presumptive nominee during the first week in May, Trump has rushed to assemble a more traditional campaign organization. He is now seeking the sort of high-dollar donors that he once rejected because they would sully the image he has promoted as a politician who cannot be bought.
Last week, for example, his campaign announced a new joint fundraising venture with the Republican National Committee, which can raise as much as $449,400 from a single individual. It is similar to one Clinton established months ago, the Hillary Victory Fund. In addition, Trump’s team has sought to identify independent super PACs that will support his candidacy. Super PACs are the relatively new, officially independent political committees that can raise money in unlimited amounts from individuals, unions and corporations.
The super PAC most identified with Trump, Great America PAC, has brought in some high-profile campaign veterans, including Ed Rollins, who managed Ronald Reagan’s 1984 campaign. Rollins, who joined the super PAC in early May, has some heavy lifting to do: The group failed to break the million-dollar mark in April, raising just $513,605 with a debt of $300,000, records show.
Clinton’s efforts to turn her attention to Trump remain complicated by Sanders, who has vowed to stay in the race and “fight for every vote” even as his cash reserves run short.
“We’ve made fundraising history, and we’re still going strong,” said Sanders communications director Michael Briggs in an email late Friday night.
Until April, Sanders was the biggest spender this cycle, dedicating significant resources to the primaries in Wisconsin, which he won, and New York, which he lost, in what was considered a critical test of strength for both candidates. Sanders outspent Clinton in expensive television advertising in New York.
All of the campaigns slowed their spending after the high-profile primaries in March and April, but the Democratic candidates are expected to pick up the pace in anticipation of the remaining delegate selection contests, including the June 7 California primary.
The Clinton campaign’s cash-on-hand figures include funds raised with the Democratic National Committee and state party committees through the Hillary Victory Fund, which can accept larger six-figure contributions from individual donors. The Clinton campaign says the funds will be used to support state party committees in the general election.
“Thanks to the support of more than 1.2 million people, we are in strong financial shape as we head into the final primary contests and prepare for the general election,” said Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager. “This will enable us to continue investing in people who will mobilize millions of voters and help Democrats running up and down the ballot.”
The main super PAC backing Clinton, Priorities USA Action, raised $8.6 million, taking its total haul to date to $121 million. The group announced an additional $45 million in pledges.
Major donors to the group include Cheryl and Haim Saban, who gave $3 million in April. The Univision chairman and his wife have already given $7 million to the super PAC. Other million-dollar donors include S. Daniel Abraham, the founder of the weight-loss brand Slim-Fast, and Alexander Soros, son of George Soros.
Although Sanders was low on cash, he continued to see a significant amount of money coming from donors who have given less than $200. So far, he has received 62 percent of his money from those small donors, compared with 21.3 percent for Clinton.
“The average contribution to the senator’s campaign is around $27,” the campaign said in a statement. “Only 5 percent of Sanders’ total came from donors who have given the maximum $2,700 an individual may donate to a candidate.”
Abby Phillip contributed to this report.