Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Make a gift today and you could win a trip to Portugal!

Trump's Fundraising Lags Far Behind Clinton's

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Dallas on June 16, 2016. Trump's campaign is struggling to raise money to finance his bid against Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Ron Jenkins
Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Dallas on June 16, 2016. Trump's campaign is struggling to raise money to finance his bid against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

His poll numbers are sinking. His TV blitz is nowhere to be seen. Big donors aren't flocking to him.

And if Donald Trump needed more tangible evidence of problems in his campaign, it's in reports filed Monday at the Federal Election Commission.

As of the end of May, Trump's campaign account held just $1.3 million compared to Clinton's $42 million. Ben Carson, whose bid for the GOP nomination ended in early March, had $1.8 million in his campaign fund. Many Republican senators facing tough re-election fights this fall have considerably more money on hand than their party's presumptive nominee for president.

The picture for Trump isn't any better with a wide lens.

Team Trump – his presidential campaign, the Republican National Committee and the friendly superPAC Great America PAC – went into June and the opening phases of the general election with $21.7 million in cash. Team Clinton, which includes her campaign, the Democratic National Committee and the Priorities USA superPAC, reported cash on hand totaling $103.4 million.

Clinton's campaign is capitalizing on the financial disparity. Her campaign now has hundreds of field staffers across the country who are busy organizing voters while Trump's organization has yet to crack 100 paid employees. Clinton and her allies are also in the midst of a massive ad blitz in likely swing states. Trump and his allies have been completely off the air at the moment when many voters are beginning to pay closer attention to the general election race.

/ Federal Election Commission
Federal Election Commission

Comparisons with the 2012 presidential race at this point are equally stark. Trump's campaign committee raised $5.6 million, to Clinton's $26.4 million. Mitt Romney's campaign pulled in $23.4 million, versus $39.1 million for Obama. Cash-on-hand for Team Romney was $85.6 million; for Team Obama, $142.1 million.

The May reports were filed hours after news broke that Trump had fired his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. In a CNN interview, the newly deposed adviser said, "The money is pouring in. People want to come on board. They want to join the Trump organization."

Trump's operation has drawn criticism for its chaotic, low-energy performance in May, when Trump had locked up the GOP nomination and Clinton was still battling Bernie Sanders. The FEC filing shows Trump's fundraising was at a low ebb, too, even as he was saying he didn't want to self-finance for the general election as he had for the primaries.

The FEC report shows the campaign now owes Trump $45.7 million, after he lent an additional $2.2 million last month. Trump's lending produced four of every 10 dollars in May receipts. Trump, who claims to be worth more than $10 billion, says he plans to rely on donors to fund his fall general election campaign.

The RNC reported high-dollar contributions to help elect Trump. Phillip Ruffin, owner of Treasure Island casino in Las Vegas, and a friend of Trump, gave $284,600. Thomas Barrack, an investor who heads a new pro-Trump superPAC, gave $299,600. Linda McMahon, who self-financed a Senate bid in Connecticut, gave $334,000.

But at Great America PAC, a superPAC already in the field for Trump, just one donor gave as much as $50,000: New Jersey investor Douglas Kimmelman, head of a private equity firm that specializes in the energy sector.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Peter Overby has covered Washington power, money, and influence since a foresighted NPR editor created the beat in 1994.

You make NHPR possible.

NHPR is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.