When President Biden traveled to San Francisco last month, he raised more than $10 million in 36 hours from wealthy Democrats. Trips to Chicago and New York brought in millions more, as did fundraising events around Washington, proving that the party’s big donor class is fully engaged in Biden’s re-election campaign.
But the low-dollar online money spigot that helped Mr. Biden break fundraising records during his 2020 presidential campaign hasn’t turned on yet, and there are ample signs it could be months before it does.
According to a Federal Election Commission report was filed on Saturday. That figure is about half of the $21 million raised during President Barack Obama’s campaign same period as his 2012 re-election bid.
Democrats involved in Biden’s campaign and the online fundraising world have detailed a number of reasons for Biden’s relatively low tally.
Google and Apple have made it harder for email senders to see data about who has opened solicitations. Inflation has slowed political giving across the board. Donors are exhausted by the endless stream of emails asking for money, and recipients respond to far fewer requests.
Right now, Democrats aren’t as enthusiastic as they were in 2018 and 2020, when the presidency of Donald J. Trump opened the door to liberal money, or before the 2022 midterm elections, when the Capitol riot, the rise of the election…denial movement and the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade all motivated donors.
And Mr. Biden is not a rogue candidate who is motivating students to put posters of him on dorm walls, as Mr. Obama or Senator Bernie Sanders did in their campaigns. His low campaign in the White House and his essential campaign have not yet motivated supporters to angrily donate to his campaign.
« Right now there’s no day-to-day competitive fighting going on, » said Jeffrey Katzenberg, the Hollywood mogul, whom Mr. Biden has named his campaign co-chair. “So these are the most loyal and dedicated believers and supporters. It will build over time.”
Mr. Biden’s campaign highlighted a number of statistics to promote his grassroots giving operation. Nearly a third of its 394,000 donors did not contribute to Biden in 2020, the campaign says.
Yet the president’s financial reports show he is far more dependent on wealthier donors than Trump was in his re-election bid or Biden’s opponents were in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race.
Ten donors, including Mr. Katzenberg, Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn, and Stewart W. Bainum Jr., the Maryland hotel magnate, have donated $500,000 or more to the Biden Victory Fund. Another 82 donors contributed $100,000 or more.
Four years ago, 35 percent of the money raised by Trump and the two joint committees his campaign formed with the national committee — Trump’s victory AND Trump Make America Great Again Committee – came from donors who donated $200 or less. For Mr. Biden, 21% of the funds for his campaign and Joint Finance Committee came from small donors.
Small dollar contributions are declining across the policy spectrum. An analysis by Middle Seat, a digital fundraising firm with a Democratic set of clients, found that small donors had given less money during the first fundraising period of 2023 than in nearly four years, since the start of the year. 2019.
« If I was on the Biden team right now, I’d be really happy with the numbers, » said Middle Seat partner Kenneth Pennington. « It’s a terrible environment to raise money and he’s not launching a new campaign. »
While Mr. Biden’s total fundraising was roughly on par with Republican candidates, he surpassed them with small donors. Together, the GOP candidates raised $7.5 million from small donors to his $10.2 million.
The percentage of contributions under $200 is typically at its highest point at the beginning of a campaign and decreases as campaigns progress, because when the amount an individual donor has donated exceeds $200, it triggers a requirement of federal disclosure.
When Mr. Biden began his 2020 presidential campaign, 38 percent of the money its campaign launched during the comparable reporting period came from small donors.
Democratic online fundraising experts said they expect the pace of online donations to Biden’s campaign to pick up early next year once voters start paying closer attention to the Republican primary race and the candidate to oppose it emerges. to Biden.
« Once Democratic donors focus on the Republican primary and the stakes in the 2024 election, the Biden campaign will have no problem raising record amounts of money online, » said Lauren Miller, who served as campaigns digital director. of the Senate by Elizabeth Warren.
Mr. Trump’s small percentage of dollars can’t be pinpointed until his joint fundraising committees, where most of his online solicitations go money, report the finances. They are not required to do so until July 31st.
The financial reports for the other Republican candidates reveal a party that, even more than Biden, is heavily dependent on major donors.
Among other Republican candidates, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis reported $2.9 million from small donors, but that figure represents only 14 percent of what his campaign raised. Small dollar percentages among other candidates ranged from 34% for former Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey to 2% for Governor Doug Burgum of North Dakota, who largely self-funds his campaign.
Unlike the Obama and Trump campaigns, the Biden campaign didn’t start with a digital fundraising team. Instead, she relied on the Democratic National Committee for her online solicitations. Countryside advertised last week that it was looking for an « Email and SMS Director » to lead a division that would typically have more than a dozen people. The campaign recently hired a director of grassroots fundraising, an official said on Saturday.
Biden’s campaign invested at least $3.3 million in advertising on Facebook and Google, according to data compiled by Bully Pulpit Interactive, a marketing and communications agency. That figure is far more than any Republican candidate has spent on the platforms and suggests the campaign is investing in finding small donors.
Two of Biden’s top advisers, Anita Dunn and Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, who are overseeing his re-election campaign from the White House, formally blessed a super PAC, Future Forward, this week as the main outlet for billionaires’ big bucks and supportive multimillionaires.