asIn a world where money is power, political elections tend to be no different. Wednesday marked the first Federal Election Commission deadline for candidates in the 2016 election to announce how much money they have raised and how much they have spent. The report covers all fundraising, spending, and stockpiles, but most of the numbers, especially those pertaining to Super Pac money, is self-reported.


Let us first look at the dichotomy of funding within the Democratic Party. As you might expect, Hillary Clinton has a prodigious monetary lead over her competitors. Having raised $63.1 million, Clinton’s total triples that of her rival Bernie Sanders who has raised a total of $15.2 million. There are a few interesting tidbits to keep in mind though. Hillary has already spent $18.7 million on the primaries while Sanders has only spent $3 million and is surging in the Iowa and New Hampshire polls. It should also be noted that 80 percent of donations to the Sanders campaign have been less than $200 indicating that there is an active grassroots movement supporting the democrat from Vermont. That said, Clinton still has an additional $28.9 million to spend on the primary, and the primaries move to more conservative states, Sanders’ chances of winning diminish proportionately.

While there are other Democratic candidates, none have made a significant surge to date. Martin O’Malley has raised $2 million. To put that number in perspective, he lies just a shade above Donald Trump’s $1.9 million and has than half of Carly Fiorina’s $5.1 million. Lincoln Chafee sits at around $400,000 with little momentum or name recognition.

So while Clinton and Sanders have made significant strides, O’Malley is moving more slowly and Chafee is all but sunk. For less well-known Democratic candidates, big time funding opportunities have been incredibly sparse. This funding difference creates an interesting, holistic dichotomy between the two parties. Democrats have two front-runners, then little competition elsewhere. Whereas Republicans…


Republicans have much more financial parity in their primary field. But one must ask themselves the proverbial chicken or the egg question. Is there financial parity because there are no clear frontrunners (Jeb Bush may disagree), or are there no clear frontrunners because there is financial parity. I tend to believe in the former. Candidates attract money, money doesn’t just randomly appear for candidates simply because you declare yourself as an eligible nominee. Think about it: if I handed in my papers to the FEC today and said “I declare myself an electable candidate for the Republican nomination,” no one would give me money.

So without a clear nominee, the vast amount of Republican money is finding different homes. That said, Jeb Bush is clearly ahead of the funding curve, amassing an astounding $114.4 million. That more than doubles his nearest opponent Ted Cruz, who has raised an impressive $52.3 million. But these figures show just how much more money is on the Republican side of the table in 2016. The likes of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have both raised more than $40 million. Rick Perry has even raised more than Bernie Sanders, boasting a solid $2.7 million lead over his socialist counterpart. Even more shocking is the fact that the likes of John Kasich, Chris Christie and Ben Carson have each raised more than $10 million. More competition is not far behind either, with Bobby Jindal at $9.3 million and Mike Huckabee at $8 million. These numbers do show that Rand Paul has started to slip though. At only $6.9 million, the libertarian messiah may not have much of a chance when we get to the debates as his momentum has steeply depreciated since his early announcement.

The Take-Away:

Of the top earners, twelve are Republicans and two are Democrats. But as the weak links are weeded out during the primaries, especially on the Republican side, the money will be consolidated to a select two or three candidates. This point in the campaign is critical. Without momentum, one loses funding, and without the proper support, a strong showing in the primary can be useless if the candidate is too far behind. It is for that reason the likes of Lindsey Graham and Martin O’Malley really need to get a move on.

Image via Jay Westcott/POLITICO