by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Donald Trump is the political fundraising equivalent of a rainmaker. He’s also something of a vacuum.
The former president raised more than $19 million in the first quarter of this year across his political organizations and entered April with a war chest that topped the staggering sum of $124 million. Trump’s robust fundraising in January, February, and March is just another example of his ability to attract millions of dollars in contributions from millions of grassroots donors in the post-presidency and, in effect (and forgive the cliche), make it rain.
But Trump’s growing cache of campaign cash is significant for another reason. The more he and his political operation, generally operating under the “Save America” brand, vacuum up, the less there is left over for other Republican candidates and Republican entities to raise for themselves.
True, Republicans and their committees are enjoying a banner 2022 cycle vis-a-vis fundraising. And yes, political fundraising in the United States is a multibillion-dollar business and seemingly on the rise. But money is finite, and some significant portion of the 679,445 donations to Trump’s political groups in the first quarter, averaging $28.04 each, might have landed elsewhere, perhaps the Republican National Committee or another potential 2024 presidential candidate, had they not been given to the former president.
Aside from that, Trump’s fundraising continues to demonstrate that his relationship with the conservative grassroots is solid, although this dynamic will be worth reevaluating after this year’s Republican primaries conclude and we can review how well the former president’s endorsed candidates performed. But in the meantime, the numbers tell the tale. Of those 679,445 donations Trump’s political entities received during the first three months of the year, 98.42% of them were under $200.