Oct 15, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Biden campaign's spending explodes in third quarter

President Biden delivers remarks on new efforts to crack down on hidden junk fees in the Rose Garden of the White House on Oct. 11. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Biden's re-election campaign has dramatically increased its spending, with $57 million going out the door during the past three months, the campaign disclosed Sunday.

Why it matters: The spending is a significant shift for Biden's team after spending just $1.1 million in the previous quarter — and reflects the campaign's push to build an infrastructure as GOP contenders continue to fight it out in their primary season.

  • Biden's campaign team is ramping up with several dozen new staffers in its new headquarters in Wilmington, Del., and millions of dollars in TV and social media ads.

Driving the news: The campaign said it raised more than $71 million in the third quarter, a little less than the $72 million Biden raised during the second quarter with the Democratic National Committee and joint fundraising committees.

  • The Biden team added $14 million to its cash-on-hand during the third quarter and now has a total of $91 million.

Biden's third-quarter fundraising haul is far behind that of former President Trump and the Republican National Committee at this point during Trump's re-election campaign in 2019. They raised $125 million during that period and had $156 million cash on hand through Trump's various fundraising committees.

  • The Trump campaign spent about $69 million in the third quarter of 2019.
  • "We don't take our cues from the 'death star,' " a Biden campaign spokesperson quipped to Axios, referring to what the Trump campaign called itself in 2020, only to lose the election.
  • Former President Obama — the last Democrat to run for re-election — and the DNC raised about $70 million during the same period in 2011.

Biden's team highlighted that it has more cash on hand than any of their 2024 Republican rivals.

  • That's because individual donors can give a maximum of $6,600 to those GOP campaigns between the primary and general election, while they can donate up to $929,600 to Biden's joint fundraising committee, per an agreement between the campaign, the DNC and state Democratic parties.
  • Once there is a GOP nominee, that candidate will be able to raise funds with the RNC.
  • Trump's campaign said this month that it had more than $37.5 million cash on hand entering October — including $36 million for use in the primary — and raised more than $45.5 million during the third quarter.

By the numbers: Biden's team told Axios it has spent about $10 million of a previously announced $25 million TV ad buy.

Zoom in: The campaign did not disclose how much money it raised from small-dollar donors, a metric of grassroots enthusiasm.

  • Asked by Axios for the amount, the campaign declined to say — adding only that during the third quarter it doubled the number of donors who have committed to giving every month.

Between the lines: The Biden campaign has struggled to generate grassroots interest and small-dollar donations, which are those under $200.

  • Biden's campaign and its joint fundraising committee brought in $10.2 million from small donors last quarter, about half of Obama's $21.2 million haul during the same period in 2011.
  • Biden also struggled to raise money from small-dollar donors during the 2020 primary, but saw such donations explode in the general election match-up against Trump.

Biden's campaign has tried to ramp up its small-dollar operation by deploying Obama and the online meme "Dark Brandon."

  • A fundraising contest to meet Biden and Obama and get a picture taken with both brought in nearly $2.5 million, the campaign said.
  • The campaign also found fundraising success with "Dark Brandon" — an online meme portraying Biden as a conniving, behind-the-scenes mastermind.
  • "Dark Brandon" mugs and the web videos the president filmed with them "drove close to $2M in revenue since August, and led to an 850% increase in sales month-over-month from July to August," the campaign said in a statement.

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