Most presidential candidates are filing their first campaign finance reports Wednesday
Jeb Bush leads the pack at $114.4 million
What’s there to make of all this money?
Most presidential candidates are filing their first campaign finance reports Wednesday, but many hopefuls have taken the past two weeks to highlight their impressive hauls – or alternatively, slide smaller sums in the middle of detailed memos or release them late on Friday afternoons.
Some candidates have had much longer to raise money for their accounts than others, and some chose to raise money purely for their primary while others began to raise money for a general election.
The total amount of “hard dollars” – the money directly controlled by the campaign – speaks to how much each campaign has to hire staff, organize in the early-voting states and send their candidate around the country.
But equally important are “soft dollars” – money given to outside groups that are allied with particular campaigns. Nearly every presidential hopeful has a super PAC, which can raise money in unlimited amounts as long as it doesn’t coordinate how that cash is spent with the campaign it is supporting. And some aspirants also have nonprofit groups behind them. Those organizations also can raise unlimited money, but are able to hide its donors’ names in return for not spending its entire budget on express advocacy for a particular candidate.
Given the contribution limits, these outside groups are dwarfing the official campaigns in the total size of fundraising. Yet as any fundraiser or political strategist will tell you, that downplays the power of an official campaign: Because they control the money in their bank account, the campaign can deploy its resources where it sees fit rather than merely hoping their super PAC makes the right call. And super PACs historically have spent much of their budget purchasing television, which is sold to campaigns at a much lower rate than it is to the outside groups.
We’ll know all candidates’ totals Wednesday and the totals of all super PACs by the end of the month when the spenders file with the Federal Elections Commission. Often, the details of the report – which vendors have been hired, who is each candidate’s biggest donor, and how much cash each organization has on hand – can be just as telling about the campaign’s path to victory as the official tally.
But here’s what each candidate and their backers now claim, ranked by the size of their hauls thus far.
Jeb Bush: $114.4 million
Campaign: $11.4 million
Super PAC: $103 million
Bush delayed launching his own campaign in order to fundraise directly for his super PAC, which some charge allowed him to skirt around campaign-finance laws but nevertheless allowed him to enter the presidential race with a record-shattering sum to back him.
Hillary Clinton: $60.6 million
Campaign: $45 million
Super PAC: $15.6 million
Clinton is also supported by the opposition research firm American Bridge, which has strong ties to her campaign but is technically not a pro-Clinton group. It has two spending vehicles that raised an additional $8.7 million.
Ted Cruz: $52.2 million
Campaign: $14.2 million
Super PACs: $38 million
Cruz has had two quarters to raise his $14 million – he filed a first-quarter fundraising report with just over $4 million raised in April – but has turned heads with the surprisingly strong performance of his super PACs.
Marco Rubio: $43.9 million
Campaign: $12 million
Super PAC: $16.1 million
Nonprofit: $15.8 million
Rick Perry: $17.9 million
Campaign: $1.1 million
Super PAC: $16.8 million
Perry’s weak fundraising haul was tucked in last week mere minutes after his super PAC announced an impressive total that came almost entirely from three big donors.
Bernie Sanders: $15 million
Campaign: $15 million
Sanders rails against the “billionaire class” on the stump and has sworn off the help of a super PAC – though nothing can prevent his supporters from eventually starting one.
John Kasich: $11.5 million
527 committee: $11.5 million
Kasich does not yet have an official campaign account because he doesn’t yet have a campaign (he’s expected to launch next week). But his political committee, New Day for America, raised over $10.5 million in its first two months, while “allied organizations” took in the rest.
Chris Christie: $11 million
Super PAC: $11 million
The New Jersey governor won’t file his first campaign-finance report until the fall since he announced his campaign on the last day of the second quarter. His super PAC, however, said Tuesday it had raised $11 million to support him.
Ben Carson: $10.5 million
Campaign: $10.5 million
Carson is a favorite of small donors who give online. The two independent super PACs – which haven’t yet released their totals – are reportedly feuding with one another.
Mike Huckabee: $8 million
Campaign: $2 million
Super PAC and nonprofit: $6 million
A senior adviser to the former Arkansas governor’s campaign said Tuesday that the super PAC supporting him, Pursuing America’s Greatness, and the nonprofit group, America Takes Action, combined to raise $6 million.
Rand Paul: $7 million
Campaign: $7 million
Paul may have had nearly the entire quarter to raise money for his campaign, but he raised much less than some of his Republican competitors. Paul has reportedly had trouble collecting the early money that he’s expected to need to succeed. He has two main super PACs – America’s Liberty PAC and Concerned American Voters – that have not yet released their fundraising totals.
Carly Fiorina: $4.8 million
Campaign: $1.4 million
Super PAC: $3.4 million
Fiorina’s super PAC is playing a larger role in day-to-day campaign operations than perhaps any other outside group, and the fundraising numbers reflect that. Just don’t confuse the two: Despite its name, “Carly For America” is not the official campaign.
Lincoln Chafee: $390,000
The quixotic bid of the former Rhode Island governor is off to a slow start. He raised $390,000 to begin the race – and $360,000 of that came from a loan he made to himself.
Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, Martin O’Malley: Undisclosed.
We don’t know how much these candidates or their affiliated outside groups have yet raised. Walker, who only announced his bid Monday, has two committees that are expected to announce about $20 million.
Jindal has a super PAC that has been aggressively spending in Iowa, but he’s unlikely to post a substantial sum. O’Malley’s super PAC has hit Sanders online, but he also isn’t known enough to be a financial juggernaut.
Santorum, Graham and Pataki all have official campaigns and super PACs behind them as well, but it’s unclear until Wednesday how at least the campaigns are doing.