Biden hauls in $90 million in March as campaign embarks on general election blitz

Originally Published: 06 APR 24 08:01 ET

Washington (CNN) — President Joe Biden raised more than $90 million for his reelection campaign and the Democratic Party in March, a whopping haul in a month that saw him pivot to a general election posture – including a forceful State of the Union address and a high-dollar fundraiser with some of his predecessors.

The campaign announced it has a war chest of $192 million cash on hand – describing it as “the highest total amassed by any Democratic candidate in history at this point in the cycle.” It also boasted its “strongest grassroots fundraising month since launch.”

Donald Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee, meanwhile, ended March with a combined $65.6 million fundraising haul and $93.1 million cash on hand – a significant gap from the Biden war chest, though Trump will see a boost from the billionaire-heavy fundraiser he hosts in Palm Beach on Saturday. CNN reported on Friday that Trump and the Republican Party have raised $43 million so far for that fundraiser.

Biden’s influx last month was nearly double what his campaign had raised in March 2020 as he undertook his first campaign against Trump.

Deputy campaign manager Rob Flaherty credited the success of the Biden’s fundraising to small-dollar donors, arguing the campaign has built out a “robust grassroots fundraising machine and a really significant pro-Biden list.”

“Our campaign has always focused on lifetime value,” Flaherty said. “We are focused on building relationships with our grassroots donors so that over time they give more gifts on average, than folks who just sort of come in and off the list.”

He added, “What you’ve got here is a campaign that is already in a a strong position on our side, that has a lot more room to move versus Trump is just running around maxing out billionaire checks.”

March’s numbers mark a silver lining for the Biden campaign as the president faces persistently low approval ratings and close races in a series of battleground states, where much of its spending will be focused, and as Biden’s age and his handling of Israel’s war in Gaza have shaken the resolve of some portions of his base.

Surveys of registered voters in Michigan and Pennsylvania – two crucial states that helped catapult Biden to victory after he flipped them from red to blue four years ago – show both candidates in a dead heat.

The CNN survey, conducted by SSRS, found Biden and Trump tied in Pennsylvania at 46%. Trump was ahead in Michigan 50% to Biden’s 42%.

But regardless of polling, the March fundraising numbers are sure to be seen as a positive sign by Biden’s campaign, emphasizing donors’ desire to prevent Trump from obtaining a second term – if not enthusiasm for Biden’s return to the White House.

It could also be seen as proof of Biden’s effectiveness in intimate, closed-door fundraisers, where he has been known to criticize Trump more sharply than he does in the public eye.

Biden has crisscrossed the country in the weeks since his March 7 State of the Union address, traveling to every battleground state while heralding his record on health care, infrastructure and the economy while pitching the upcoming election as one that will determine the future of American democracy itself.

The campaign hosted the then-single most successful political fundraiser ever in terms of dollars raised in March as Biden tapped former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton for an event at Radio City Music Hall, raking in more than $26 million – of which $9.5 million, about one third, came from grassroots donations of $200 or less. Trump’s Saturday fundraiser will surpass that number.

Biden’s State of the Union address also marked a major moment for online fundraising. The hours during Biden’s speech were the best fundraising hours the campaign has seen with grassroots donors, a campaign official said.

The campaign raised more than $1.5 million in the 24 hours after Super Tuesday, and the president also traveled to Texas last month for a pair of fundraisers in Houston and Dallas.

But Biden’s campaign said the bulk of its funds came from grassroots donors – 96% of its first-quarter donations were under $200. In March alone, 704,000 unique donors made 864,000 contributions to the Biden-Harris campaign.

About 40% of the 1.6 million donors who have given to Biden’s campaign this cycle are new from 2020, Flaherty said, crediting the fundraising boost to more voters tuning into electoral politics as November approaches.

“We’ve seen a whole bunch of new donors appear since the race consolidated,” Flaherty said. “I think we’re getting money from a wide variety of folks who care about our democracy and care about the stakes of this election.”

Flaherty said the early fundraising performance bodes well for the rest of the year as the campaign still believes its biggest money hauls will come in the final months of the campaign, similar to the trajectory of 2020.

The March numbers come as the campaign is ramping up its spending in key battlegrounds where Biden’s team is building out its organizational capacity in both online and physical spaces.

The campaign opened more than 100 new brick-and-mortar offices and hired more than 350 new team members in March, numbers expected to continue to grow in the coming weeks.

It also launched a $30 million, six-week paid media campaign on digital and television platforms.

CNN’s MJ Lee contributed to this report.

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