Saturday night’s Federal Elections Commission filings also shed light on Republicans’ edge in spending this month, an ongoing battle among several outside groups to be Biden’s preferred super PAC and Justin Amash’s brief run for president.
POLITICO dug through the numbers and here’s six takeaways from this month’s filings:
Trump, RNC spending dwarfed Biden, DNC
The president’s campaign and the RNC far outpaced Biden and the DNC in spending in May. Trump’s team spent about $ 46.5 million during the month, while Democrats spent about $ 24.1 million — a reflection of Trump’s significant cash-on-hand advantage over Biden, who became the presumptive Democratic nominee two months ago.
But the spending totals are likely not a full picture, because any spending by the candidates’ joint fundraising committees is also not accounted for. In particular, one of Trump’s joint fundraising agreements focused on small-dollar fundraising routinely spends millions on Facebook advertising over the course of a month.
Much of the president’s and Biden’s spending was on advertising — a category that will continue to balloon as the campaign turns to the general election. The Trump campaign spent $ 19.8 million on ads through the company American Made Media Consultants, which was created by campaign officials to handle its advertising purchases. Biden’s largest expenditure was $ 3.6 million to the media buyer Infogroup.
The RNC spent over $ 1 million on “legal and compliance services” during the month, including nearly $ 200,000 to “Alan Dershowitz Consulting LLC.”
Democratic Super PACs battle for a fundraising edge
During the presidential primary, Unite the Country boosted Biden when he needed it most, helping his campaign rebound from losses in Iowa and New Hampshire to a decisive Super Tuesday performance. That March, the super PAC brought in more than $ 10 million. But over the past two months, the super PACs fundraising cratered, bringing in $ 723,000 in April and $ 1.3 million in May.
The drop occurred after Biden’s campaign initially signaled Priorities USA, another group that led outside Democratic spending in 2016, would be its preferred super PAC. Those moves are closely tracked by big-money donors, who want to stick with the favored outside group.
Priorities USA, which backed Biden after Super Tuesday, raised $ 7.5 million last month. The group told the Los Angeles Times it secured $ 38 million in donations and commitments since early May, two-thirds during the last three weeks. That would mean a huge spike in the group’s June fundraising totals.
Priorities USA also spent nearly five times more than Unite the Country — $ 9.7 million to $ 2.1 million — largely on TV ads, slamming Trump.
But Unite the Country says it’s still relevant. An aide told POLITICO that the group topped its May fundraising total in the first ten days of June. Unite the Country and American Bridge 21st Century — another pro-Biden outside group that files quarterly, not monthly — also forged a partnership to pool resources and research.
Pro-Trump super PAC’s fundraising dropped in May
fundraising totals for America First Action, the pro-Trump super PAC, plummeted in May — bringing in $ 2.4 million. In April, the group raised nearly $ 11.6 million.
It’s likely a one-month blip, and the Republican super PAC is not expected to struggle for cash as the election turns to the fall. But the drop-off shows how deeply the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent economic downturn hit the group, which is reliant on big-money donors who keep a close eye on a yo-yo-ing stock market.
In a statement, Brian O. Walsh, America First Action’s president, said the group eased up on seeking donations in May as the coronavirus wrecked the economy. “But we are moving forward in June,” he said. Walsh noted the group is running ads against Biden in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania since mid-April, and is “in a solid financial position to continue to do so.”
An aide to America First Action said that the group, along with the super PAC’s affiliated non-profit America First Policies, had $ 56 million in cash on hand by mid-June. The aide also said America First Action brought in nearly $ 3.6 million this month as of June 19.
Dan Eberhart, a major GOP donor, also noted that the “steep drop” for America First Action’s fundraising is “hopefully” a “temporary blip because of the pandemic and not an indication of reduced support for President Trump.”
Still, the pro-Biden super PACs lag behind the pro-Trump super PACs in cash on hand, mirroring the official campaign fundraising. America First Action is sitting on $ 27 million, while Priorities USA and Unite the Country, a pair of pro-Biden super PACs, have a combined $ 22.7 million in cash on hand.
A Democratic money juggernaut — even in a pandemic
Even during a pandemic, ActBlue, the progressive fundraising platform, continues to be a juggernaut for the Democratic Party — giving its candidates an enormous advantage in hauling in small-dollar donors.
May — a month marked by historically bad unemployment numbers, as more than 40 million Americans are without jobs — was still the third largest month by number of contributions and unique donors, and fifth largest by total dollars raised, according to ActBlue’s analysis.