WASHINGTON D.C. — Just over a year into his presidency, it is clear that President Donald J. Trump has his sights set on re-election in 2020. Today, President Trump announced that Brad Parscale will be his campaign manager for the next election. Parscale was digital director for President Trump's 2016 election bid.
However, the most telling proof may be in the numbers. According to the Trump campaign's filings with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the campaign has already raised over $32 million toward a 2020 re-election bid, and they have spent almost $18 million—primarily in the form of operating expenditures. ABC reports that the Trump campaign paid $882,000 to Parscale's media company (Parscale Strategy LLC) for the month of January alone.
To put this in perspective, the FEC reports upwards of 20 candidates who have already declared their intent to run for president in 2020. There are a handful of Democrats, Republicans, Independents, several Libertarians, and a few who defy affiliation. Of these, only one candidate (aside from President Trump) has managed to raise more than $1 million. Only one other candidate has raised more than $10,000.
John Delaney, a Democrat who currently represents Maryland's 6th district in the US House of Representatives, announced his campaign in July of 2017. Delaney has raised almost $1.5 million, making him second only to Trump in campaign funds. His campaign has also spent nearly $1 million already. This is Delaney's first bid for the presidency, and he was a successful businessman before first seeking to represent Maryland's 6th in 2012. Delaney is currently in his third term as a representative. His campaign has received over $600,000 in individual contributions, plus $80,000 from Delaney himself. Notably, Delaney has also received $164,000 from other PACs and committees—including several prominent banks and corporations such as JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America.
Andrew Yang, a New York entrepreneur, comes in at a distant third—having raised over $130,000. Though running as a Democrat, Yang has some futurist-progressive ideas which may separate—even alienate—him from the pack. According to the New York Times, Yang considers himself a capitalist, but also a firm believer in "universal basic income," or a flat cash supplement from the government for every adult. Yang sees increasing automation in the US as a rising threat to the employment rate, and champions a safety net for Americans who will start to see their jobs replaced by technology. Yang has contributed $30,000 to his own campaign, and largely derived the remaining $100,000 from other donors, although he has not received any funding from PACs or corporations.
Both Delaney and Yang have received major contributions from ActBlue, a Democrat-leaning digital payment system founded in 2004. Although ActBlue contributions appear as lump sum donations on the FEC records, ActBlue serves as a system for gathering smaller, grassroots contributions from ordinary individual donors.
Most FEC records are easily viewable by the public, and financial information about the 2020 presidential race can be viewed here. Candidates are required to itemize contributions of over $200 (listing the names of the donors), and some candidates—including President Trump—have made an effort to itemize contributions of any amount. Much of the Trump campaign's money has come from direct individual contributions totaling nearly $10 million, plus over $17 million from associated committees, such as Trump Victory and the Trump Make America Great Again Committee.
It's worth noting that the Trump MAGA Committee never ceased in taking contributions. Their website declares "Let's keep fighting ... Democrats and the media will relentlessly try to attack us, lie about us, and divide us over these next four years," before prompting one-time or recurring donations.
Yet there can be no denying that it is early to be making any predictions about the 2020 presidential election campaign. The current landscape for campaign finances and candidates is certain to change, and it is likely that the most significant challengers to President Trump's campaign have yet to declare their candidacy.