In perhaps another indicator of flagging enthusiasm for Donald Trump, outside groups have raised just $9.7 million so far in support of the GOP presidential nominee. In sharp contrast, outside groups have collected more than $110 million on behalf of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Great America PAC, the largest of the pro-Trump PACs, reported raising $5,073,027 as of July 21. But its war chest is dwarfed by both the largest anti-Trump SuperPAC, Our Principles, which has amassed $19 million; and by Priorities USA Action, the largest pro-Clinton PAC, which reported funds of $100,040,923.
|Largest Pro-Clinton SuperPACs||Funds Raised|
|Priorities USA Action||$100,040,923|
|Correct the Record||$6,384,152|
|Blue Answer PAC||$180,927|
|Balance of Power PAC||$62,692|
|Largest Pro-Trump SuperPACs||Funds Raised|
|Great America PAC||$5,073,027|
|Rebuilding America Now||$2,160,450|
|Make America Great Again PAC||$1,742,684|
|Patriots for Trump||$131,623|
Data Source: OpenSecrets.org
Of the 19 SuperPACs listed by OpenSecrets.org as supporting Trump in the general election, 9 report having no money at all. Among these is Women Vote Trump, which enjoyed a splashy launch in June at the National Press Club. Founded by former Tea Party organizer Amy Kremer, the group announced an ambitious goal of raising $30 million for Trump, according to the Washington Times. So far, the group has reported no expenditures to the Federal Election Commission and has filed no documents.
The outside groups that typically make a name for themselves in GOP presidential politics have also been largely absent – except in opposition to Trump. The conservative Club for Growth and its affiliate Club for Growth Action, for example, reported spending $9.7 million in opposition to Trump or backing his rivals. One exception is the National Rifle Association (NRA), which has spent $1.5 million so far in support of Trump. However, it’s also spent $1.8 million opposing Clinton. And in 2012, the NRA spent $1.85 million in support of GOP nominee Mitt Romney and $7.2 million against President Barack Obama.
Earlier this spring, a pro-Trump PAC calling itself Get Our Jobs Back Inc. reported $50 million in expenditures to the FEC, which would have made it the single largest outside spender supporting Trump. But as later reported by POLITICO, this contribution took the form of in-kind donations of digital marketing services, not cash. The PAC’s founder, Steven Hoffenberg, was convicted of running a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of $475 million, for which he was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.
The lackluster outside support for Trump could mean that total outside spending on the 2016 presidential campaign falls far short of what was spent by these groups in 2012. In the last presidential contest, according to OpenSecrets, outside groups spent $418,635,080 on behalf of Republican nominee Mitt Romney and $131,303,352 on behalf of President Barack Obama. Pro-Republican PACs in fact outspent the party in 2012 by about $32 million.
But if outside money isn’t flowing into the presidential race this year, it’s still flooding Congressional elections, including especially for the Senate, where the majority control is in the balance. So far in 2016, outside groups have spent $33.3 million in the Ohio Senate race, where former Democratic governor Ted Strickland is challenging Republican incumbent Sen. Rob Portman. They’ve also spent $26.9 million in Pennsylvania, where GOP Sen. Pat Toomey is facing a tight race against Democratic challenger Katie McGinty.
Election 2016 still promises to be among the most expensive elections ever.