Jul 8, 2023 - Politics & Policy

2024 up-and-coming GOP fundraisers emerge

2024 candidates Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy

Republican presidential candidates Nikki Haley (L) and Vivek Ramaswamy (R). Photo: Michael M. Santiago / Getty.

Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley have reached a critical fundraising threshold to qualify for GOP presidential primary debates well into the fall, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: For candidates who are not former President Trump or Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the debates are a crucial marker and opportunity to propel themselves further along in the race and expand their fundraising.

  • Haley, a former UN ambassador and South Carolina governor, and Ramaswamy, a businessman and author, have both received political donations from more than 60,0000 individual donors, their campaigns confirmed to Axios.
  • Those numbers will help them earn a spot not only at the the first debate but also the second and third RNC debates.

What we're hearing: Top Republican National Committee officials have been privately laying out the donor thresholds for the first three debates to campaigns, according to people familiar with the conversations:

  • 40,000 donors (including at least 200 unique donors in each of 20 states) for the first debate in Wisconsin in August.
  • 50,000 donors for the second debate in California in September.
  • 60,000 donors for the third debate in Alabama in October.

Zoom in: Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), another prolific fundraiser, will also be on the Republican debate stage, his campaign told Axios. The campaign declined to provide specific donor numbers.

  • DeSantis said Thursday that he is planning to be at the first GOP debate in August, regardless of whether Trump participates.
  • An aide to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told Axios "we are very confident that we'll be on the debate stage," but didn't share specific numbers.
  • Former Vice President Mike Pence’s campaign told POLITICO they’re confident he will qualify for the debate, but noted he got a late start on fundraising in this quarter.
  • Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Thursday he is still 35,000 donors short of meeting the criteria for the first debate.

The big picture: To qualify for the first debate, candidates also need at least 1% support in three independent national polls or two national polls and one independent poll from two of four early voting states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

  • The second and third debates may also have polling thresholds — in addition to donor thresholds — which have yet to be determined.

What's next: Ramaswamy and Haley have both been very active on the campaign trail hoping that their hustle will turn into material support, as Axios previously reported.

  • Ramaswamy tells Axios his team built a model using the first 25,000 donors to understand the characteristics of the likely "Vivek donor," which skews younger and broadly falls into two groups: MAGA or libertarian.
  • "We've seen an explosion an uptick in the rate of donations. We went from 40k to 60k faster than we went from 20k to 40k," Ramaswamy said. "There's clearly something going on here."
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