Five takeaways from Clinton, Trump finance reports
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Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, has raised $327 million and spent $268 million since launching her campaign. 

Trump, the Republican nominee, has raised $128 million — including $52 million of his own money — and spent $90 million, according to the latest filings from the Federal Election Commission (FEC), covering the period ending July 31.

Trump is finally gaining ground on Clinton in campaign fundraising, and he's showing encouraging signs among small-dollar donors. But Trump is still getting outspent on a scale never before seen in modern presidential politics. 

Here are five takeaways from Trump’s and Clinton’s latest FEC reports:

1. Trump is running the most skeletal operation in recent memory 

Donald Trump spent less money on his campaign through the end of July than any presidential nominee of either major party dating back to the Bush-Gore race in 2000, according to The Hill’s analysis of FEC data.

Trump has spent $90 million to date, which pales in comparison to then-Sen. Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden-Harris team unveils inauguration playlist Can the GOP break its addiction to show biz? The challenge of Biden's first days: staying focused and on message MORE’s $322 million at this stage in the 2008 race and even the $125 million spent by Obama’s poorly funded rival, Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe best way to handle veterans, active-duty military that participated in Capitol riot Cindy McCain on possible GOP censure: 'I think I'm going to make T-shirts' Arizona state GOP moves to censure Cindy McCain, Jeff Flake MORE (R-Ariz.), who ended up taking public funding.

At this point in the 2012 race, Republican Mitt Romney had spent nearly double Trump, at $163 million. President Obama had spent $260 million. 

Trump's frugality is clear in his slim campaign staff roster — through the end of July, Trump had a campaign payroll roughly a tenth the size of Clinton’s. 

Clinton’s campaign had 710 individuals listed on its payroll for July, while the Trump campaign employed just 72 staffers.

The Trump campaign has been open about its lack of investment in a ground game. Trump said he believed getting out the vote was an overrated element of electioneering — it was Obama’s personal magnetism, he said, that won him his elections — and he’s outsourcing the organizational aspects of his campaign almost entirely to the Republican National Committee (RNC).

2. Clinton is monopolizing the airwaves

Trump’s campaign announced Friday that it was making its television ad debut with about $4.8 million worth of advertising in four battleground states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida.

But up until then, Trump’s campaign had spent nothing on TV advertising, giving his Democratic opponent control of the paid airwaves to an extent without precedent in the modern era.

Clinton’s campaign reported spending $26.5 million on media production and ad buys in July, whereas Trump, who has relied mostly on his ability to dominate social media and cable TV, reported no spending at all in the same categories.

When the most recent figures are added to Clinton’s and Trump’s respective media spending throughout the entire cycle — including primaries — Clinton has spent more than $100 million on paid media, compared with about $20 million for Trump. 

3. Trump is stepping up his digital investment

Trump’s spending picked up the most in digital consulting and online advertising in July. And the biggest beneficiary of that investment was his own San Antonio-based digital firm, Giles-Parscale.

Of the $18.5 million that Trump’s campaign reported spending in that category during July, about $8.4 million went to Giles-Parscale, a company that had no presidential campaign experience until joining Trump’s 2016 bid.

Trump is swamping Facebook with campaign messages and is using both email targeting and social-media outreach to grow his small-dollar online fundraising. He's finding some success, but many top Republicans worry that it's too little, too late.

4. Clinton is the favorite of mega-donors and Wall Street

Unlike Trump, whose super-PACs remain fragmented and modestly funded, Clinton has the advantage of a dominant and lucrative outside group spending on her behalf.

The pro-Clinton super-PAC Priorities USA raised $110 million through the end of July and has secured an additional $44 million in "commitments" from its donors, according to the group’s communications director, Justin Barasky. 

Some of the biggest donors to Clinton’s super-PAC include hedge fund billionaire George Soros, who has given more than $7 million, and financier Donald Sussman, whose July contribution of $3 million took his total Clinton donations to $8.5 million for the 2016 cycle.

Super-PACs supporting Trump are faring far worse. The top three groups — Rebuilding America Now, Defeat Crooked Hillary, and Great America PAC — each reported raising less than $5 million. However, Rebuilding America Now, which files quarterly, hasn't released its latest numbers. And it appears to have picked up momentum, with a series of recent expenditures suggesting the group has now raised significantly more than $10 million. 

But even that pales in comparison to Clinton's outside support.  

Priorities USA has already spent $117.5 million in TV reservations across nine battleground states — Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Iowa, Nevada, Colorado and New Hampshire — according to Barasky. And the group has also reserved an additional $35 million in digital ads.

5. Trump is gaining with small donors

Trump’s friends and children like to say he’s a “blue-collar billionaire,” and there’s some evidence from his fundraising that small-dollar donors are beginning to embrace the GOP nominee in a big way. 

The brightest spot for Trump in his fundraising reports is the growing proportion of small-dollar donors contributing to his campaign. It’s one of the reasons that the RNC is unlikely to abandon Trump — it needs his cash flow.  

Of the $73 million that his campaign has received from people not named Donald Trump through the end of July, about 70 percent — $51 million — came in donations of $200 or less, according to The Hill's analysis. 

While Clinton has raised far more from small donations, some $156 million, just about half of her total donations came from such gifts, a far smaller proportion than Trump's. She did make some inroads over the course of July, with the proportion of small-dollar donations jumping up by about 5 percentage points from the month before.