Five takeaways from the money race

Five takeaways from the money race
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Thursday night’s campaign finance disclosures underscored Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far MORE’s underdog status and how money is racing toward the battle for the Senate. 


The monthly filings, including the first three weeks of October, are the last wholesale look at the battle for cash before the Nov. 8 election. 

Here are the five big fundraising takeaways. 

Trump spending woes

The GOP nominee’s bank account has always lagged behind Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocratic insiders stay on the sidelines in 2020 race Hillicon Valley: Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates | Barr vows to make surveillance reforms after watchdog report | DHS cyber chief focused on 2020 The Hill's Campaign Report: High stakes at last Democratic debate before Super Tuesday MORE’s, but the October underscored his disadvantage. 

Trump has just $16 million in cash on hand, the lowest by a candidate at this point since 1996, after taking in $30.5 million in donations and spending more than $49 million. 

More than $19 million of that spending went to media buys--Trump has upped his lackluster television advertising spending in the race’s final full month--and another $14 million with to the digital firm running his online fundraising and digital advertising. His campaign also disclosed $2 million in new debt to vendors that hasn’t yet been paid off. 

Absent from the filings: Any cash donations from Trump himself, who has promised as recently as this week to hit $100 million in personal donations to his campaign and regularly runs fundraising drives where he promises to match their donations.

 So far, he’s donated about $56 million to the cause, according to a CNN count, and said Friday that he’d write a check for another $10 million but demurred on whether he’d hit the century-mark. 

While he hasn’t been as reliant on self-funding as his campaign rhetoric suggests, Trump has regularly contributed to his own campaign, which made October’s departure surprising. His filings only show $30,680 in in-kind donations, salaries and rent, and no actual cash gifts from the wealthy businessman despite his spending eclipsing his cash haul. 

Clinton sitting pretty

Clinton’s report shows that she’ll have significantly more resources at her disposal than her opponent. She has $62 million banked away for the last two weeks of the election, almost four times that of Trump. And her campaign continues to raise and spend more money than Trump--taking in almost $53 million while spending $50 million over the last period. 

When taken in total with each candidate’s joint accounts with their respective political parties, an analysis by the Associated Press shows that the Democratic effort has about $153 million by Oct. 19 at its disposal compared to the $68 million in the bank to support Trump’s candidacy. 

Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie downplayed the gap during a call with reporters on Friday. 

“We are being incredibly efficient with the dollars we have,” he said, noting the Republican National Committee’s spending on building out a ground game over the last few years. 

“She has been outspending us the entire cycle. But the problem for her is that it’s...not going to reflect on Election Day.” 

Clinton wins the big money game

The Democrats also hold supremacy with large donors too, as those donors never really flocked to Trump to the level of previous GOP nominees. 

And with super-PACs able to accept unlimited donations, Clinton’s allies continue to dwarf those who are devoted to electing Trump.

Priorities USA announced this week it broke the record for super-PAC fundraising as it hit $176 million for the cycle and has $15 million in the bank after taking in $18 million in donations and spending about $25 million.

Trump’s three main super-PACs lag far behind, with one group taking in just $25 in donations over the three-week period, barely enough to buy its main benefactor, Trump ally Robert Mercer a New York lunch. 

The other two groups, Rebuilding America Now and Great America PAC, took in $3.2 million. Combined with Mercer’s super-PAC, Mercer’s Make America Number 1, they have banked $5.1 away for the home stretch, one-third that of Clinton allies.

 Democratic super donors out in full force

Liberals made up the top five donors during the three-week filing period. 

Two stalwarts led the pack-- Chicago entrepreneur Fred Eychaner and environmentalist Tom Steyer. 

Eychaner gave $5 million each to the House Majority PAC and the Senate Majority PAC, the two super-PACs focusing on flipping those bodies of Congress, as well as another $2 million to Priorities USA and a super-PAC focused on Illinois state legislature. 

Steyer pumped $10 million into his climate change group, NextGen Climate Action Committee. 

James Simons, a hedge fund manager, and his wife Marilyn, gave $3 million to Priorities, $2.5 million to Senate Majority PAC, $1.5 million to House Majority PAC, and $500,000 to a pro-immigrant super-PAC. 

Hedge-fund manager Donald Sussman gave $1 million to Priorities and another $3.5 million to House Majority PAC. And Dustin Moskovitz, the former Facebook founder who has jumped into the world of multi-million dollar campaign donations for the first time this year, gave another $5 million to Priorities. 

The largest Republican donor of the three-week period was Marlene Ricketts, the wife of businessman Joe Ricketts who had previously spent millions to defeat Trump in the primary before spending to support him in the primary. 

But Ricketts’ dollars went down-ballot to ESAFund, a group focusing on Senate races. 

Down-ballot heating up

As is clear from the donations by many of the largest donors, the race for Senate (and lesser-so the House) is heating up in the final weeks. 

Republican efforts to hold the Senate received a big boost this month with $18 million in donations to the Senate Leadership Fund, the Republican-supporting group that has taken aggressive action to bolster embattled incumbents. 

The majority of that, $11 million, came from the nonprofit One Nation, which does not have to disclose its donors. And a number of reliable Republican mega-donors--World Wrestling Entertainment’s Linda McMahon, private equity manager John Childs and former Ambassador Sam Fox sent six-figure sums to the group. Those donations effectively bankrolled the group’s recent aggressive spending, as it ends the period with just $2.1 million on hand. 

Democrats too are seeing tons of cash come to their chief Senate outside group, Senate Majority fund, which raised $19 million. The Democratic group’s bank account is in better shape than its GOP counterpart, as it has $13 million in the bank. 

On top of the likes of Eychaner and Simons, the group received checks from prominent Democratic donors like Mary and Jay Pritzker, relatives of Commerce Secretary Penny PritzkerPenny Sue PritzkerThe Hill's Morning Report - Sanders steamrolls to South Carolina primary, Super Tuesday Biden's new campaign ad features Obama speech praising him Obama Commerce secretary backs Biden's 2020 bid MORE, as well as the son of billionaire George Soros. Famous director Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg each donated $250,000.