Biden Is Beating Trump in Money Wars, Though Not Overwhelmingly
President Biden held a notable but not overwhelming financial advantage at the end of last year over his chief Republican rival, former President Donald J. Trump, an encouraging sign for an incumbent struggling to generate robust enthusiasm among the Democratic grass roots.
Mr. Biden’s campaign reported having about $46 million in cash on hand at the end of December, compared with $33 million for Mr. Trump’s campaign, according to filings on Wednesday to the Federal Election Commission.
But Mr. Biden, who faces only nominal competition in the Democratic primary race, has not amassed the sort of imposing financial advantage some in his party had anticipated, given that Mr. Trump has had to devote resources to fending off his Republican primary rivals. Mr. Trump’s political action committees have also directed $50 million toward his legal expenses as he fights 91 felony charges.
The year’s final federal filings also provide the first evidence of how the Biden campaign is spending the millions it has collected.
Its largest expenditures are on television and digital advertising — more than $16 million in the third quarter — and personnel. The reports show 72 people on the campaign’s staff at year’s end, though many more people have been hired since then. Officials said the campaign now had more than 120 employees on its payroll.
Mr. Biden’s campaign released its top-line fund-raising numbers two weeks ago, in the middle of the Iowa caucuses, but officials revealed few details at the time. The campaign, the Democratic National Committee and three affiliated fund-raising vehicles raised a combined $97.1 million in the final reporting period of 2023, and had $117 million in cash at year’s end.
The bulk of the money raised from individual donors, $66.9 million, came through the Biden Victory Fund, a joint fund-raising account that is split between the campaign and Democratic state parties. Individual donors can give up to $929,600 to the joint fund-raising account, the first $6,600 of which goes to the campaign itself.
“While Donald Trump lights money on fire paying the tab on his various expenses, Team Biden-Harris, powered by grass-roots donors, is hard at work talking to the voters who will decide this election and building the campaign infrastructure to win in November,” T.J. Ducklo, a Biden campaign spokesman, said in a statement.
After receiving a combined $25 million in the campaign’s first two quarterly fund-raising periods from donors who gave less than $200 — a key sign of grass-roots enthusiasm — the Biden campaign and the Biden Victory Fund reported raising $17 million from such donors in the final three months of the year.
Developing an early network of small donors is critical for a campaign’s fund-raising later in the election cycle. It is far more likely that supporters will send money to the campaign, even in small increments, if they have done so already.
Mr. Biden’s political committees received contributions of at least $500,000 from 15 donors in the final three months of 2023.
Among his largest donors were the Hollywood mogul Steven Spielberg and his wife, Kate Capshaw ($929,600 each); the technology executive Mark Pincus ($929,600); the financier George Soros ($653,000); Avram Glazer, whose family owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Manchester United soccer team ($538,289); Eric Schmidt, the former Google chief executive ($500,000); and Shonda Rhimes, who created the television show “Grey’s Anatomy” ($100,000).