Joe Biden’s campaign raised $46.7m in March, the former US vice-president’s best month for fundraising yet, and more than $30m what President Donald Trump’s own campaign raised.
Mr Biden’s campaign said 70 per cent of its money came through online contributions. The average contribution size was $40. The amount was more than double the $18m Mr Biden had raised in February — his previous biggest monthly haul.
By contrast, Mr Trump’s re-election campaign raised $13.6m last month. However, his campaign ended the month with $98.5m in cash on hand — compared with $26.4m for Mr Biden’s campaign — a sign of the challenges the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee faces heading into the November election. The Republican National Committee also ended the month with more cash on hand than the Democratic National Committee — $77.1m versus $35.9m for the DNC.
The latest fundraising numbers underscore the swift coalescing in the Democratic party behind Mr Biden, who, after a couple of disappointing finishes in the early presidential primaries, went on to quickly cement his status as the party’s presumptive nominee, and rally the rest of the Democrats behind him.
During the first two weeks of March Mr Biden raised $33m, his campaign said. Last week, Mr Biden said he had raised more than $5.2m over the three-day period that he had received formal endorsements from former president Barack Obama and former primary rivals Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
However, the former US vice-president acknowledged that coronavirus and the brewing economic crisis were likely to have an effect on future contributions.
“I know that April may not match March in fundraising, and that’s OK by me . . . But if you can give this month, I hope you will,” Mr Biden said in an email to his supporters. “Because we will still be campaigning as hard as ever to take the strongest fight possible to Donald Trump. He has a lot more money than us, and we are facing an uphill battle trying to catch up now.”
Among Mr Biden’s most prominent backers and bundlers some expressed optimism about the surge in donations that the former vice-president had received, particularly over the last week.
His campaign has maintained a vigorous schedule of virtual fundraisers, some featuring Mr Biden, others featuring top advisers. During the events a few dozen donors will gather on a video call to catch up with the former vice-president, and each other, and ask Mr Biden and his team questions.
A Republican fundraiser involved with the Trump campaign said the president’s team was also looking at starting its own virtual fundraisers with Trump surrogates in the next couple of weeks.
On Thursday, Mr Biden will take part in one such fundraiser with celebrity guests, including performers Billy Porter, Kristin Chenoweth and Melissa Etheridge, as well as tennis star Billie Jean King.
Ticket prices start at $1,000 a person, going up to $2,800 for “sponsors” and $5,600 for “champions” — the maximum amount that can be donated to a candidate during the general election. Those who raise $20,000 or more for the event are listed as “co-hosts”.
“All of our fundraising is now virtual,” said Sarah Morgenthau, a Biden fundraiser and member of his national finance committee. “The positive about this is that folks don’t need to go anywhere because everything is effectively national and there are many more events to choose from. If you can’t make it to 4 o’clock in New York, you can make it to 3 o’clock in San Francisco.”
Despite the numerous events and an increasing number of television appearances for the former vice-president, some Wall Street donors said they were increasingly anxious that Mr Biden was getting sidelined by Mr Trump amid a global healthcare crisis that has allowed the US president to occupy even more airtime than usual to communicate directly with the electorate.
“Biden and his team have gone awfully quiet,” a top corporate lawyer and Democratic party donor said. “I’m concerned by the lack of energy of the Biden team. It seems like he is hiding. He should announce his VP and top cabinet picks and then have a daily brief on how he would handle the coronavirus crisis . . . He can get a lot of support from smart Democratic governors.”
Jeff Hauser, director of the Revolving Door Project at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, noted that the Trump campaign had significantly more cash on hand than the Biden campaign.
“Trump has built out an incredible small to medium-dollar donor network as well as a much larger soft money network than he had in 2016, a network of super-Pacs (political action committees), the Republican National Committee and the Joint Fundraising Campaign with Trump,” Mr Hauser said.
“So Trump is likely to be the best-funded candidate in history whereas Biden is less well-funded than any Democrat probably going back to 2000, as of now. That could change but it’s a big change from the 2018 Congressional race.”
Working in Mr Biden’s favour will be a more well-funded DNC, which raised $32.7m in the first quarter — compared with $24m raised by the RNC. However, the DNC benefited from a huge financial injection from Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor and presidential contender who transferred $18m from his defunct presidential campaign to the DNC, after pulling out of the race.