It has become axiomatic that in any contested race, the Democrat will have more money behind him or her than the Republican. That may be true in 2020 as it has been in past cycles, but the GOP seems to be narrowing the money gap as well as the organization gap. It is heartwarming to see a Democrat fretting about this:
For months Democrats have worried about a potentially lethal combination of Trump’s incumbency advantage coupled with the unparalleled strength of the GOP organization — and that was before their newfound fear that they may not end up with a suitable nominee to take on even a deeply embattled Trump. … [T]he Trump campaign is carpet-bombing Facebook with ads and the RNC is spreading a volunteer army across key swing states, all while breaking fundraising records allowing them to deploy critical resources nearly a year before a Democrat is nominated.
I don’t pretend to be able to keep track of the campaign finance laws, but I remember that in 2012, Mitt Romney raised money for the primary campaign but couldn’t spend general election money until after he was nominated. He lost the election during the Summer of 2012, when the Democrats smeared him mercilessly and he was powerless (or moneyless) to fight back. Next year, maybe the shoe will be on the other foot.
In August, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez acknowledged the threat after the RNC tripled the amount the DNC raised in July. In an email he sent supporters sounding the alarm, he wrote that “our eventual nominee won’t stand a chance against Trump and the GOP’s fundraising machine unless we start making strategic, early investments right now.”
It was clear in September, when the RNC quadrupled the DNC total, that those investments have yet to materialize. September was the best non-election-year month for the RNC in history for either party, raising $27.3 million to the DNC’s $6.9 million. The RNC is carrying no debt; the DNC is carrying $7.2 million. The RNC has $59.2 million cash on hand while the DNC has $8.6 million. The RNC’s 2019 total is $168.7 million while the DNC has raised only $66.5 million this year.
As I said, it is heartwarming. There is more:
The combined total raised online from small donors in the third quarter between the RNC, the Trump campaign and the Trump Make America Great Again Committee was $45 million, with a surge of 313,000 first-time small-dollar donors just in that quarter.
Moreover, it isn’t just money, it is also organization:
For the 2020 campaign, RNC has staff deployed in 19 states including New Hampshire and New Mexico, with five regional communications directors and nine regional political directors. By Election Day there will be 2 million volunteers coordinated by 60,000 “fellows,” who are trained grassroots volunteers. In 2016 the RNC had 5,000 fellows, then in 2018 that grew to 25,000, and more than 30,000 additional fellows are being trained up now. Volunteers download an app, then go door to door in assigned teams that break down by state, then “turf,” then neighborhood. “We don’t care about offices,” said RNC spokesman Rick Gorka.
In Arizona, now a swing state after decades trending red, the RNC will be tracking 207,284 so-called “disengagers” statewide — that is, people who voted in 2016 but not 2018. They already know, for example, their specific goal in “turf 24” outside of Maricopa County: to reach 14,537 swing voters they need to win over.
And so on. It is all very encouraging. And, of course, Democrats who fret about money and organization will never acknowledge the more important fact that President Trump has an excellent record to run on. You could tell the story of President Trump’s first-term successes at great length, but this 30-second version does a pretty good job:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2019
Meanwhile, the Democrats continue to indulge the fantasy that people like Beto O’Rourke (RIP) and Pete Buttigieg are serious candidates. If the GOP can finally match the Democrats in money, organization and technical sophistication, it is hard to see President Trump losing to any of the Democratic contenders.