Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed that he is funding his own campaign so that he is not beholden to wealthy donors. The claim, like the majority of Trump’s public statements, is a lie. Trump has actively sought money from donors; he just has not been particularly successful at raising it.
By the end of June, Trump had raised about $37 million from individual contributors, far less than his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton’s $231 million, according to the U.S. Federal Election Commission. Even combined with the nearly $50 million of his own money Trump has contributed (or loaned) to his campaign, the Republican’s war chest is much smaller than Clinton’s.
Trump’s fundraising deficit should be cause for concern for his supporters. In the four previous presidential elections, the candidate who had raised more money by June 30 went on to win the election.
To be sure, Trump has managed to confound low expectations since he announced his candidacy last June. His ability to earn free media coverage by making provocative and bizarre declarations may free him of the need to raise as much cash as past candidates.
But money is the lifeblood of the modern presidential campaign. Candidates use contributions to buy ads, pay staffers, and coordinate get-out-the-vote efforts. If Trump’s fundraising efforts continue to lag behind Clinton’s, he may struggle in the closing months of the campaign.