Five things to watch for in latest campaign fundraising reports

Five things to watch for in latest campaign fundraising reports
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Fresh reports of campaign fundraising will be released soon, and the documents will tell us plenty about how Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIntel Dem decries White House 'gag order' after Bannon testimony 'Total free-for-all' as Bannon clashes with Intel members Mellman: On Political Authenticity (Part 2) MORE, Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDems flip Wisconsin state Senate seat Sessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants GOP rep: 'Sheet metal and garbage' everywhere in Haiti MORE, and dozens of Senate and House candidates are positioned to compete in the fall.

Here are five things to look for on Friday, when second-quarter figures for House and Senate candidates are unveiled; and July 20, when monthly presidential campaign and super-PAC reports are released. 

Which Republican mega-donors have become Trump converts? 

Billionaire Republicans have been resisting supporting Trump.

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Many of these donors remain outright hostile toward their fellow billionaire, who spent the GOP primary campaign trashing some of their most beloved policies —free trade, immigration reform, entitlement reform — and who told them loudly and repeatedly that he was so rich he didn’t need their money.

That’s all changed. 

Now the general election is here, and the presumptive GOP presidential nominee knows he’s up against a Democrat who will likely raise more than $1 billion. 

Trump, who still hates asking rich donors for money, is finally making a somewhat serious attempt to woo GOP donors. 

Names to look out for on the Trump donor list include Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire who has already signaled he’s prepared to spend tens of millions of dollars supporting Trump through an independent super-PAC; as well as big-spending GOP families including the DeVoses of Michigan.

Also, look out for Wall Street donors who are likely funding Trump’s campaign in increasing numbers despite the candidate’s frequent rhetorical attacks on their livelihood. Trump’s finance chief, Steve Mnuchin, is a New York banker, and he has been tapping his Manhattan friends and associates for campaign cash. 

How serious is the Trump campaign expansion?

Trump has already announced an impressive, and desperately needed, turnaround in his fundraising pace. The Trump campaign said it raised more than $26 million in June, a vast improvement on its paltry $3.1 million in May.

But there are many crucial details hidden behind these top-line dollar figures.

One is whether Trump can build his own small-dollar fundraising operation like the one that propelled Democratic contender Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersMellman: On Political Authenticity (Part 2) Former Sanders campaign manager: Don't expect email list to be shared with DNC Adult film star: Trump and Stormy Daniels invited me to 'hang out' MORE

Another perhaps more crucial indicator will be the extent to which the Trump campaign has expanded its nationwide staff and offices — particularly in battleground states like Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania — to compete with Clinton.

Until recently, Trump has been largely winging it by spending very little money, relying instead on huge rallies, continuous tweets and cable TV appearances. 

GOP operatives have been stressing out because Trump thinks he can make do with a barebones operation of some 70 staffers. They point out that Clinton has about 10 times that number on her payroll.

A senior source inside the Trump campaign told The Hill on Monday that the campaign has finally gotten serious about staffing. He said the campaign is growing aggressively, particularly following the firing of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on June 20.

The June financial report will give us our first look at whether the reality of Trump’s campaign expansion matches the rhetoric. 

Is Clinton winning over Sanders’s small-dollar donors?

Clinton’s campaign made a clear play for Sanders’s small-dollar donors on Tuesday by marking his endorsement of Clinton with a new donation button on her website.

The figure might sound familiar: $27.

It’s the average donation Sanders consistently bragged he had received during his primary campaign. It became so famous that comedian Larry David used it in one of his sketches.

Since effectively locking up the nomination more than a month ago, Clinton has been aggressively wooing Sanders supporters who funded the most successful grassroots campaign in presidential history.

Clinton’s campaign has already announced it raised more than $40 million in June, but it is unclear what proportion of that money came from Sanders’s small-dollar donors — a nearly bottomless well of cash that could be tapped until Election Day.

Next Wednesday will reveal how much progress the Clinton campaign has made in persuading grassroots progressives to bolster a fundraising apparatus that has already locked up the top of the Democratic donor food chain.

Which Senate Democratic candidates in battleground states are in good financial health?

The big Senate news this week was Evan Bayh’s late entrance into the Indiana Senate race, turning the state into a genuine battleground overnight.

The Democrat brings more than just his political experience as a popular former senator from Indiana. 

He also enters the race with $9.3 million on hand, according to the Federal Election Commission. That’s a competitive amount of money and should worry his Republican rival, Rep. Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungTrump steps up threats to foreign aid Blue wave of 2018 stops in Indiana and Missouri Indiana GOP candidate targets Senate rival over past Trump criticism MORE, who finished June with about $1.2 million on hand.

But how are other Democrats doing in their bids to unseat vulnerable Republicans in swing states?

The campaign of Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth (Ill.) says it raised more than $2.7 million in the second quarter and finished June with $5.5 million on hand.

Her struggling Republican rival — Sen. Mark KirkMark KirkHigh stakes as Trump heads to Hill Five things to watch for at Trump-Senate GOP meeting Giffords, Scalise highlight party differences on guns MORE, who is considered the most vulnerable GOP senator this cycle —  reportedly raised less than half of what she did in the second quarter. The difference in their financial health could prove decisive in a close race.

Other battleground Democrats to keep an eye on include former Sen. Russ Feingold in Wisconsin, who says he raised a strong $4.1 million in the second quarter. His Republican rival, Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP senators eager for Romney to join them The House needs to help patients from being victimized by antiquated technology Comey’s original Clinton memo released, cites possible violations MORE, raised $2.8 million in the same period and has more than $6.3 million on hand, according to the campaign. The July 15 reports will show what kind of campaigns that money has built.

Also worth watching is little-known Democratic candidate Deborah Ross, who is challenging Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrNSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Senate Intel chairman: No need for committee to interview Bannon McConnell: Russia probe must stay bipartisan to be credible MORE (R) in the North Carolina Senate race. Burr’s fundraising has been sluggish this entire cycle, while Ross had a strong start to the year and is promising an even better second-quarter showing.

Which swing-state Republican senators are best-placed to withstand a voter backlash against Trump?

A top Republican strategist recently told The Hill that the most unimaginable scene in Ohio politics would be Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanFlake's anti-Trump speech will make a lot of noise, but not much sense Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race Overnight Tech: Regulators to look at trading in bitcoin futures | Computer chip flaws present new security problem | Zuckerberg vows to improve Facebook in 2018 MORE appearing on stage beside Trump. 

Portman’s fear, like so many of his contemporaries running for reelection in battleground states, is that Trump’s alienation of women, minorities and young voters will spread beyond the race for the White House and poison Senate Republicans, too.

Luckily for many of these vulnerable senators, Trump’s candidacy has not hurt them with donors. In fact, GOP mega-donors, many unwilling to donate to Trump, are focusing their energies on keeping the Senate in Republican control. That includes the most powerful donor network in conservative politics, led by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.

Portman is perhaps the best-positioned GOP senator to survive if Trump loses to Clinton in a landslide. Portman’s campaign says it will report having more than $13 million on hand at the end of June. Watch to see the difference reported by Portman’s Democratic rival, former Gov. Ted Strickland, who is not a strong fundraiser and has yet to report his second-quarter figures.

Other GOP bright spots to watch out for include Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, who is a favorite of the party’s establishment.

And keep an eye on Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Cybersecurity: Bipartisan bill aims to deter election interference | Russian hackers target Senate | House Intel panel subpoenas Bannon | DHS giving 'active defense' cyber tools to private sector Senators unveil bipartisan push to deter future election interference Puerto Rico's children need recovery funds MORE, who befriended some of the wealthiest GOP donors in the country during his presidential bid. 

Rubio decided belatedly to run again for his Florida Senate seat. Assuming he wins the Aug. 30 Republican primary, he’ll likely compete against Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy.

Murphy will announce plenty of cash on hand — more than $7 million, according to his campaign — but Rubio says he raised more than $2 million in just nine days after announcing his reelction bid in late June. Look, also, to see which major donors are jumping on board Rubio’s allied super-PAC.