The Republican National Committee netted a record fundraising haul in March, pulling in $24m for Donald Trump’s re-election campaign even as the coronavirus pandemic put millions of Americans out of work and brought the economy to its knees.
That the Republican machine was able to raise the record-breaking sum indicates that the party’s campaign operation is in rude health despite the mounting economic crisis.
The stay-at-home and social distancing strictures forced by the coronavirus outbreak mean that campaign rallies are ruled out, cutting both Mr Trump and his rival Joe Biden off from crowds at a critical point in the campaign cycle.
The president has continued to manipulate the news cycle via his Twitter feed, and is using his daily coronavirus press briefings to disseminate relentlessly (and dubiously) positive messages about his administration’s handling of the pandemic, including by reading out flattering headlines and showing reporters compilation videos of governors praising his performance.
Online contributions from small donors have started to drop off as voters come under tough financial pressure thanks to furloughs and job losses, and Mr Trump is still raising money from super-wealthy individuals even. Still, the Republican party is still focusing on attracting donors online, and nearly 75 per cent of this last month’s donations were of $200 or less.
On the Democratic side, meanwhile, former presidential contender Bernie Sanders on Friday sent an email to his supporters urging them to donate to the Democratic Unity Fund, a fundraising operation announced by Barack Obama in 2019 that will dedicate itself to supporting whomever the nominee is.
Mr Sanders’s fundraising assistance is a valuable boost for presumptive nominee Mr Biden, who has struggled to raise the sort of money he needs to compete. He was outraised by his rivals during the later stages of the Democratic primary, and has been scrambling to make up the lost ground since it became all but certain he would be the nominee.
One hope for Mr Biden is that billionaire and failed democratic candidate Michael Bloomberg will make good on his promise to donate hundreds of millions of dollars to the campaign against Mr Trump. That said, Mr Bloomberg ploughed more than $600m into his own presidential run yet won only a single primary, in American Samoa.