The financial landscape of the 2024 presidential race — the contest’s haves and have-nots, their momentum and desperation — will come into sharper focus on Saturday, the deadline for campaigns to file their latest reports with the Federal Election Commission.
The filings, which detail fundraising and spending from April 1 through June, will show which campaigns brought in the most hard-earned dollars, or money raised under federal limits that is used to pay for staff, travel, events and advertising. Senate campaigns must also file by the end of Saturday, which means an early glimpse of fundraising by incumbents in potentially vulnerable seats.
Essentially, the records will reveal which candidates are struggling to attract donor interest. For example, former Vice President Mike Pence raised just $1.2 million, two aides said Friday, a strikingly low figure that could signal a difficult road ahead.
The reports will also provide a sense of small-dollar support, and which donors are maximizing their contributions to which candidates. And they will show how campaigns are spending their money, which ones have a lot of cash and which ones are in danger of running dry.
“The FEC reports are the MRI scan of a campaign,” said Mike Murphy, a veteran Republican strategist. “It’s the best thing to go into the headquarters and check the files.”
But the picture will not be complete. First, super PACs, which can raise unlimited money and play a large role in supporting presidential candidates, don’t have to file reports on their fundraising and spending until the end of the month.
The total number of donors to each campaign will also not be provided in the files. That figure is a vital measure for Republicans, as the party requires presidential candidates to have at least 40,000 unique donors to participate in the first primary debate on August 23.
Saturday will also be the first detailed look at President Biden’s war chest as he slowly ramps up his re-election campaign. His campaign said Friday that along with the Democratic National Committee and a joint fundraising committee, it raised more than $72 million combined for the second quarter.
In the same period in 2019, former President Donald J. Trump and his allies raised a total of $105 million – $54 million for Mr. Trump and his committees, and $51 million for the Republican National Committee. In 2011, former President Barack Obama raised $47 million for his campaign and $38 million for the Democratic National Committee.
Saturday will also show the money taken by candidates in competitive Senate races in West Virginia, Arizona, Montana, Nevada and Ohio, among other places.
The filings for presidential candidates are handled by competitors who want to “get a sense of how they’re applying their resources, which will give them a clue about strategies,” Mr. Murphy said. Candidates could look at how much their rivals are spending on ads and polling, for example.
“The most important number is cash, minus debt,” Mr. Murphy said. “You see how much financial firepower they actually have.”
Several Republican presidential campaigns previewed their fundraising ahead of the release. Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida raised $20 million in the second quarter, his campaign said this month. But the filing on Saturday will show what percentage of that amount came from contributions under $200, which is instructive in gauging the strength of his grassroots support.
Mr. Trump raised more than $35 million in the second quarter, his campaign said. That number is difficult to compare with Mr. DeSantis’s, however, because Mr. Trump raised money through a joint fundraising committee, which allows him to solicit contributions above the $3,300 individual limit and then transfer funds to his campaign and his leadership. . political action committee.
Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador, is pouring money into a joint fundraising committee that funnels funds to her campaign and a leading PAC.
Ms. Haley’s three committees combined received $7.3 million in contributions in the second quarter, according to filings shared with The New York Times, of which the campaign itself accounted for $4.3 million.
Mr. Murphy singled out Ms. Haley as a candidate whose total earnings appeared modest, but whose cash increased from the first quarter of the year – to $9.3 million from $7.9 million across the three committees. “It shows a heartbeat,” he said. Her filings also suggest her campaign is running a lean operation, with minimal staff, economical travel and no TV ads.
The Republican National Committee’s donor threshold for the first debate has changed the calculus of many campaigns and PACs, which must focus not only on fundraising, but also on attracting a sufficient number of individual donors. So far, the candidates who say they have met that threshold are Mr. Trump, Mr. DeSantis, Ms. Haley, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.
On Wednesday, Mr. Scott’s campaign said he had raised $6.1 million in the second quarter. Mr. Scott entered the race in May with a head start: He had $22 million in hard dollars in his Senate campaign. His presidential campaign said it had $21 million left at the end of the quarter.
Another Republican candidate, wealthy entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, did not release a preview of his fundraising numbers, but he said he will spend $100 million of his own money on his bid. Mr. Christie, similarly, has not released his numbers.
On Friday, the campaign of Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota, a wealthy former software engineer, filed his quarterly report, showing that he raised $1.5 million in contributions and that he loaned $10 million to his campaign. He had $3.6 million in cash at the end of the month.
The campaign of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the environmental lawyer who is challenging Mr. Biden for the Democratic nomination, also filed its report on Friday, showing more than $6.3 million in contributions and $4.5 million in cash at the end of June.
Terry Sullivan, a Republican strategist who ran Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign, said it will tell which candidates broadcast their total donor numbers.
Another thing to look at is the “burn rate” of each campaign, Mr. Sullivan said — what candidates spend as a share of what they took in, and how much they left in the bank.
Campaign accounts are essential for candidates because, unlike PACs, the finances are controlled by the campaign. Also unlike PACs, campaigns are protected by federal law that guarantees political candidates the lowest possible rate for broadcast advertising.
Mr. Sullivan said that television advertising is no longer as important as so-called earned media exposure, through events, viral moments and debates. But those often cost money, too: Even on a shoestring budget, candidates can easily spend a quarter of a million dollars a day holding events on the road, he said.
“Nobody stops running for president because they think their ideas aren’t good enough anymore, or they’re not qualified,” Mr. Sullivan said. “People stop running for president for one reason, and one reason only: It’s because they lack money.”
With Mr. DeSantis, Mr. Trump and Mr. Scott in the top tier of candidates with the most available cash and Ms. Haley in the next tier down, it remains to be seen who will join her in the modest but a feasible middle ground.
Republican political observers will be closely watching the record of former Vice President Mike Pence, who has not announced his fundraising figures.
He is disliked by many Republican voters and well behind Mr Trump and Mr DeSantis in national polls – yet he constantly appears in the thirdover Mrs. Haley and Mr. Scott, and do an aggressive play for religious conservatives on apparently friendly ground in Iowa. How he performs financially could offer a clue to the continued strength of his campaign.
Reid J. Epstein and Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.