As Donald Trump heads into the general election, Hillary Clinton has 40 times more money and 10 times more staff, new election filings have revealed.
The Trump campaign reported only having $1.3 million in the bank at the end of May, according to the latest Federal Election Commission filings — an amount that would be disappointing for a Senate campaign, let alone a presidential candidacy, and is less than many of the candidates that dropped out, including Ben Carson. In total, the campaign raised slightly more than $3 million in contributions in May.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign, meanwhile, raised more than $19.6 million in the same month and has $42 million more than Trump available to spend.
Trump runs a bare-bones operation, with only 70 people on staff compared with almost 700 people working for Clinton. Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager, explained that Trump's campaign is planning to rely more heavily on the Republican National Committee’s 500-person field staff.
May was the first month of fundraising, the Trump campaign said in a statement:
The month of June represents the first full month of fundraising activity for the campaign and this will be reflected in the June FEC report. The campaign held its first campaign fundraising event on May 25th, 2016. To date, the campaign's fundraising has been incredible and we continue to see a tremendous outpouring of support for Mr. Trump and money to the Republican Party. The positive response to our fundraising efforts so far is a further indication that the country does not want yet another corrupt politician like Crooked Hillary.
The Trump campaign is turning the May filing into a point of pride, touting running an efficient and self-funded primary campaign. But running a successful national campaign requires money and staff. Since locking up the primary delegates, the campaign has been trying to attract big donors, an effort many have speculated has proven more difficult for the rogue presumptive Republican nominee.
Trump downplayed the importance of fundraising Tuesday after media reports on his campaign's filings, commenting, "If need be, there could be unlimited 'cash on hand.'"
"I would put up my own money, as I have already done through the primaries, spending over $50 million dollars. Our campaign is leaner and more efficient, like our government should be," Trump said in a statement.
But if Trump hopes he can rely on his personal wealth, a recent Wall Street Journal analysis found that he doesn’t seem to have enough ready cash to pay for the campaign:
The result is if Mr. Trump stuck with self-financing, he likely would have faced difficult decisions over whether to sell some of his properties or borrow more money against them.
A turning point for Trump?
Lewandowski told CNN’s Dana Bash that when it comes to fundraising, the Trump campaign is "exceeding expectations."
"The money is pouring in," he said. "People want to come on board. They want to join the Trump organization."
But Lewandowski was fired Monday — which reportedly came as a surprise to him — and the fundraising totals are just the latest in a month of very bad news for Trump.
A Washington Post/ABC poll found that 70 percent of all adults, and 69 percent of registered voters, have an unfavorable opinion of Trump, donors and American businesses seem to be stepping away, and members of his own party seem have come out to say they will support him but not endorse him.
Now he enters the general election with the largest fundraising disadvantage in recent political history, according to the New York Times.
It’s long been a belief among pundits that no matter the outrageousness of the comment, Trump can shake off the bad press and foster support. But these new fundraising numbers demonstrate that Teflon Trump is a myth, as Vox’s Matt Yglesias explained in May:
This stuff all takes perhaps less of a toll on Trump than one might like. But the toll is very real. The result of saturation-level media coverage of Trump is that he is very well-known and very unpopular. The criticism sticks.
That could help explain why, as Trump heads into the general election, he’s underfunded, understaffed, and historically unpopular.