President Biden’s campaign effort raised $97 million in the last three months of 2023, a sign of accelerating donor interest in his campaign that notched more money than former president Barack Obama during the same period of his reelection.
The fundraising total includes donations to Biden’s campaign account and affiliated state and national party committees, giving the president a significant advantage over his potential Republican rivals who continue to battle each other for the nomination.
“This historic haul — proudly powered by strong and growing grassroots enthusiasm — sends a clear message: the Team Biden-Harris coalition knows the stakes of this election and is ready to win this November,” Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez said in a statement.
Flush with resources, the Biden campaign has started to move more aggressively to staff up at its headquarters in Wilmington, Del., and in battleground states around the country. Some Democrats, however, have worried that the campaign had been moving too slowly to hire staff in key states, missing opportunities to engage with voters and sell Biden’s accomplishments.
Former president Donald Trump appears poised for a commanding win in the Iowa caucuses on Monday and could essentially wrap up the Republican nomination in a matter of weeks, ushering in an earlier-than-usual start to the general election.
In an effort to counterprogram the GOP caucuses, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D), Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Jeffrey Katzenberg, a co-chair of the Biden campaign and Democratic megadonor, are holding a news conference in Des Moines on Monday. The Biden campaign said the officials will “remind voters of what’s at stake this November as Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans launch an all-out assault on Americans’ freedoms.”
Obama raised $68 million in the fourth quarter of 2011, a sum that would have the spending power of $92.4 million today, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Obama campaign’s approach to fundraising was less reliant on party committees, which can accept more money from individual donors.
But Biden’s advisers say their current email list is larger than any Democratic president on record, with a 15 percent growth in the active subscriber base in the last three months of the year. He previously reported fundraising $143 million in the second and third quarters of 2023 in all of his affiliated accounts.
Biden’s campaign said that more than 1 million supporters had made a contribution by the end of the year. At the same point in 2012, Obama’s campaign claimed 1.3 million donors. The overall Biden effort held 39 of its 110 fundraising events in 2023 during the last three months of the year, the campaign reported.
Biden’s various entities ended the year with $117 million in cash, the campaign said, after keeping most off-year expenses well below the campaigns of Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2020. Biden and his affiliated committees have chosen an early emphasis on advertising instead of staff-hiring. The effort spent nearly $28.5 million on ads last year, according to the tracking firm AdImpact.
Incumbent presidents historically gain a significant advantage in the year before their reelection because they do not have to spend heavily to win their nominations. Biden faces primary challenges from Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) and author Marianne Williamson, but neither has shown much strength in public polling.
Both have been campaigning in New Hampshire, which is holding the nation’s first primary on Jan. 23, but Biden’s name will not appear on that ballot and the results of the election will have no direct impact on delegate selection for the Democratic convention. The first officially sanctioned Democratic contest will take place Feb. 3 in South Carolina.
“The Biden-Harris campaign and the DNC are working as one team with a single mission: to build a winning campaign that has the resources to send Joe Biden and Kamala Harris back to the White House, and elect Democrats up and down the ballot,” Democratic National Committee chair Jaime Harrison said in a statement.
Democrats have grown increasingly anxious about the likely rematch between Biden and Trump, as polls show a tight race between the two men. Voters continue to raise concerns about Biden’s age and consistently rank it as a bigger problem for the president, who is 81, than for Trump, who is 77.
Just before the holidays, Biden held a number of private lunches at the White House with top donors and other supporters as part of an effort to reassure them about his reelection campaign, including concerns about his age and energy, according to three people familiar with the meetings.
The meetings, organized by Katzenberg, have no set agenda, but the conversations have covered a range of topics, including how to take on Trump, the Israel-Gaza conflict and abortion rights.
Obama has also raised questions about the structure of Biden’s reelection campaign, discussing the matter directly with Biden and telling the president’s aides and allies the campaign needs to be empowered to make decisions without clearing them with the White House, according to Washington Post reporting.