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Tracking The Money Race Behind The Presidential Primary Campaign

Editor's Note on June 4: We're no longer updating this page. For the latest on the money race between President Trump and his challenger, Joe Biden, go here.

Raising money isn't just a necessity for presidential candidates — it can also be a way to measure candidates' credibility and staying power.

Though Democrats had their largest primary pool in at least 40 years, a candidate who never cracked the top tier of fundraising during that contest ended up on top. And a candidate who spent a billion dollars had virtually nothing to show for it.

Here are the financial figures that the candidates including President Trump and the presumptive Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, have reported to the Federal Election Commission, so far. The president's totals include money that other committees, such as the Republican National Committee and the Trump Victory Committee, have transferred to him.

First, here's how Biden and Trump stack up:


There are also more detailed fundraising metrics that give the public an idea about the priorities of the candidates and how they have run their campaigns.

Democrats have widely rejected, for example, support from corporate political action committees. While these committees have allowed businesses and trade groups in the past to funnel huge amounts of cash to eager candidates, Democrats have become increasingly worried about the appearance of businesses having undue influence over the political process.

Campaigns also make a point of touting the amount they have raised from small donors (those who give less than $200). These donors, who don't have to disclose their names or information, can represent the measure of a candidate's grassroots support. That, of course, doesn't always translate to primary delegates — as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sandersand Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren learned during their unsuccessful — but it certainly gives candidates staying power.

And of course, much of the funding for Democrats during the 2020 primary came from the candidates themselves. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg contributed more than $1 billion to his own bid for president, but dropped out the day after Super Tuesday without winning a single primary.


Candidates were required to file quarterly reports with the Federal Election Commission through 2019 and then switched to monthly reports in 2020.

Total money raised for each candidate includes the following:

  • Individual contributions: Donations from individuals — capped at $2,800 per donor for the primaries. This is the top-line number campaigns often advertise and is broken down into supporters who have given more than $200 and those who have given $200 or less.
  • PACs and political committees: Transfers to the campaign from political action committees or another political committee, such as a candidate's previous campaign from a different run for office.
  • Self-funding, loans and other: Can include refunds, investments, etc.
  • This page will be updated as more fundraising numbers become available.



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    This story was originally published on April 16, 2019.

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Sean McMinn is a data editor on NPR's Investigations team.
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