On Thursday, the Trump campaign announced that it raised $51 million in the last week of May and the month of June—$26 million for the campaign itself and $25 million for the RNC. While there is no reason to doubt, necessarily, the accuracy of these numbers—and they are obviously a vast improvement over the campaign’s abysmal $3.1 million May fundraising efforts—it is important to remember they do not represent anything close to a full accounting of the campaign’s financial health.
It is no surprise, really, that Trump would be eager to dispel the notion that his campaign is running on fumes: His last finance report was both deeply embarrassing and also further evidence that he might not actually want to be president. But releasing these specific numbers weeks before the Federal Election Commission makes the Trump campaign’s official monthly report public might also be indicative of a deepening panic—that is to say, the campaign wants voters to remember this number, rather than the numbers to come.
In certain respects, presidential campaigns are run much like businesses: If you spend more than you take in, you’re operating at a loss—if you have a lot of money in the bank, that might be okay; if you don’t, it might not. Contributions to a campaign are a kind of “income,” and disbursements are a kind of “expense.” The Trump campaign is very excited to tell everyone about its $51 million of income, but it hasn’t yet made public the expenses accrued during the same time period.
The key number that the official FEC filing will disclose is exactly how much money the Trump campaign has “on hand.” Trump started the month of May with $2.4 million cash on hand; raised $3.1 million; spent $6.7 million; and ended the month with $1.2 million—a loss of $1.3 million.
By contrast, Hillary Clinton started May with $30.1 million cash on hand; raised $19.6 million; spent $14 million; and ended the month with $42.4 million—a gain of $12.3 million. (Clinton raised $68.5 million in June.)
The question, then, is how much the Trump campaign spent in order to raise $51 million. As the press release itself points out, “The fundraising team has built a top-tier operation in a short period of time.” Surely not an inexpensive proposition! In any event, we’ll find out soon enough: The campaign’s June FEC filings are due July 20—right in the middle of the Republican National Convention.