New Orleans In election cycle after election cycle, the role of money, big money, has increased. Donors are the third rail in modern US politics. Candidates seem to put more priority on winning their favor than the voters during their campaigns. Heck, even the Trump and Haley campaigns had to go to a beauty contest before big donors after the New Hampshire primary. The most recent reports filed by all the campaigns before the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for the last quarter, before the primaries, tells some interesting tales.
One that will long be remembered and might foreshadow the end of Ron DeSantis ambitions to aspire for anything past the Florida borders is how little money can buy you love, at least with the voters. He seems to have outspent everyone by multiple factors, running through $160 million from start to his dismal finish in Iowa. That’s a lot of money, anyway you look at it.
This is not sympathy for the donors. The Florida-based crowd will still try to collect now that he’s home, perhaps for good. The ones who put up gazillions to his super-PAC, because they saw in him Trump with competence and less baggage, got what they deserved. There’s no market among the Republican base for Trump-lite, when they can have the real thing, warts and all. As the old country-western song said, “if you don’t stand for something, you don’t stand for nuthin’ at all.” Given all he has inflicted on the good people of Florida to establish his far right bonafides and polices, on the hustings, it was clear he stood for nothing at all other than that he was not Trump.
Haley’s reports claim she has been a bit of a saver in order to make it deeper into the Republican primary season. She’s still got almost $15 million in the bank, so she can be a burr in Trump’s saddle and try to build her brand for the future a bit longer, even if there’s no way she can win. No tears for Haley, though, her super PAC spent almost $40 million for her to come in second and third. In her case, she might want to save some of that to live on over the next number of years, since that seems to be important to her family. Not sure if there’s any way, she’s viable for 2028, since money isn’t exactly buying her love either.
Biden has more in the bank now than Trump, but it’s not a super lead. There’s also a double-edge to all of this. It’s worrisome that if Trump had not spent $50 million out of his war chest on legal fees for his many trials and tribulations, he would have more socked away than Biden. On the other hand, his legal troubles are increasing, rather than decreasing, as he tries to stall everything with appeals and delays as long as possible, which means his fees are going to keep sucking tens of millions out of his PACs, so this will be virtually a permanent drain.
Some observers are noting that Biden should have done better in the fundraising area, since he’s a sitting president. I’m not sure. He out raised Trump in the last quarter, and now that everyone is clear this is a two-person race, I bet a lot more money comes his way with both of them as the last folks standing.
Now is the time people will make their big bets. It’s a shame money is so critical in politics, but donors will be reaching for their checkbooks, while the rest of us try to make it through and cast a vote for democracy, rather than favor.