By Lydia McFarlane

March 28, 2024  OpenSecrets

 

With the White House and Congress at stake, the national Republican Party is lagging behind Democrats in fundraising efforts ahead of the contentious and expensive 2024 election.

Party fundraising arms are ramping up efforts to put more cash behind some of the nation’s most competitive races, including a rematch between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump in the General Election this November.

The latest campaign finance reports, filed on March 20, show the Democratic National Committee raised $16.6 million and the Republican National Committee raising $10.7 million in February, bringing their respective totals for the 2023-2024 election cycle to $154 million and $109.5 million. The DNC entered March with more than $26 million cash on hand, while the RNC had about $11 million in the bank.

President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party now have about $155 million cash on hand in their joint accounts after raising a combined $53 million in February, maintaining an edge over the GOP. The Republican Party raised $32 million last month and entered March with an $81.3 million warchest across the RNC, National Republican Senatorial Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee.

The national Democratic Party also spent millions more than the GOP.

Republicans’ financial woes follow infighting at the RNC, which culminated in a triumvirate of former President Donald Trump loyalists taking over the organization. Last month, the RNC elected Trump-backed Michael Whatley to replace Ronna McDaniel as chair and the former president’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump to be co-chair. Trump’s senior campaign advisor Chris LaCivita was also chosen to be the organization’s chief operating officer.

The RNC entered 2024 with $8 million in cash-on-hand — the worst start to an election year in almost a decade — while the DNC started the year with more than $21 million, OpenSecrets previously reported. Similarly, the Democratic congressional and senatorial campaign committees entered 2024 with significantly more cash than their Republican counterparts, reversing a fundraising trend over the last several election cycles in which the GOP enjoyed a fundraising advantage

The GOP launched a joint fundraising account with Trump this month, so it isn’t clear yet whether the former president can attract more dollars to the RNC. But Kyle Kondick, managing editor at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics’ publication Sabato’s Crystal Ball, told OpenSecrets that Trump’s financial troubles could affect the GOP too.

“It’s common for the presidential nominee and the presumptive nominee in the party apparatus to effectively merge, so we’re seeing that for the Republicans right now,” Kondick told OpenSecrets. “If Trump’s having fundraising problems, it stands to reason the RNC might too.”

The RNC’s new joint fundraising agreement with the Trump campaign stipulates that the RNC will direct funds to cover legal fees associated with Trump’s ongoing court battles, which may have big donors withholding their money this election cycle.

Even so, money doesn’t always translate to wins. In 2020, Republicans maintained a fundraising advantage but still lost the White House. While the GOP reclaimed a narrow majority in the House of Representatives after the 2022 midterms, the predicted “red wave” did not materialize, and Democrats performed better than expected for a midterm election with a Democrat in the White House, even though Democratic Party committees raised less than the GOP that cycle.

Republican party leaders blamed Trump and poor-quality candidates while Democratic Party leaders credited the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and eliminate constitutional protections for abortion rights with influencing the election outcome. Several leaders also highlighted the money Democratic committees spent on the campaign.