Every presidential election year leaves behind a smashed trophy case of old fundraising records. The biggest haul for a Senate candidate? We have a new winner. The most fundraising ever by a Republican challenger in a House race? Another record, broken. The best-funded presidential campaign of all time? We already know that Barack Obama’s record won’t survive this year.
Oct. 15 was the deadline for federal campaigns to report how much they raised from June 1 through Sept. 30, the third quarter of the year. For the next 16 days, we’ll get 48-hour spending reports from campaigns, and we’ll see surprise expenditures from last-minute super PACs that don’t have to reveal anything until the election is over.
The upshot of everything: This is an expensive campaign, and Democrats have raised more money than Republicans. There are plenty of Republican bright spots, unlike two years ago; there are a few sinkholes, where millions of dollars are funneling into unwinnable races. Here’s what mattered, as the cycle begins to wrap up and as the parties make hard decisions about where to try to win their majorities — and both Democrats and Republicans can still see paths to victory.
Joe Biden is the greatest fundraiser in the history of Democratic politics. That would have sounded risible just six months ago. As a primary candidate, Biden was outraised by several Democratic rivals. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont cited his enormous grass-roots network as a reason that he, not Biden, was the party’s most electable candidate.
But by early October, both Biden and Trump were probably topping $1 billion raised for their campaigns and party committees. It’s only the second election, after 2012, in which both Democrats and Republicans raised more than $1 billion for their presidential campaigns.