For the GOP presidential contenders, it’s time to put up or shut up.
Thursday was the deadline for campaigns to file detailed financial reports telling the world how much they raised over the summer.
The reports were especially important to answer pressing questions facing some top candidates: Did the Jeb Bush fundraising machine slow during the traditionally tough summer months? (Sort of.) And was Carly Fiorina able to capitalize on a pair of strong debate performances into a top bank account? (Yes.)
Yet the leading Republican candidates on Thursday were those same anti-establishment forces who lead in polls: Ben Carson raised more money than any other contender this quarter with $20.8 million, and Ted Cruz had more cash on hand as of September 30 than any rival, with $12.2 million.
The establishment candidates — traditionally better funded and better organized — largely struggled on Thursday. Contenders like John Kasich and Chris Christie posted poor hauls, and even Bush — supposedly the top fundraiser in the GOP field — found himself displaced by candidates like Cruz and Carson.
The eye-popping stats are how many millions of dollars the candidates earned (or didn’t), but a second number may be more telling to judge the future of the campaigns: cash on hand, or the amount that each White House hopeful has right now to spend on TV advertisements and field organizing. And everyone looked at the so-called burn rate — how quickly candidates are spending their cash.
It’s an especially important figure for Republicans, as the top campaigns look to argue they are built for the long haul, to outlast candidates like Donald Trump.
Some candidates showed the ability to do more with less: Marco Rubio’s fundraising numbers were not particularly impressive, but he ended up with some of the most cash on hand thanks to a lean campaign budget. Others reminded us from the grave of the opposite problem: Peeks at the financial reports of Scott Walker and Rick Perry — who both dropped out during the third quarter — provided autopsies of how their campaigns ultimately fell.
And several presidential contenders on Thursday showed themselves to be potentially joining the graveyard. Bobby Jindal, George Pataki and Jim Gilmore all have less than $500,000 on hand and will likely be haunted by questions about whether they can make it to the first caucuses in Iowa.
Here’s what we learned about the candidates from their third-quarter reports:
Donald Trump receives $4 million he didn’t ask for
Raised: $3.9 million
Cash on hand: $255,000
Burn rate: 106%
The billionaire’s campaign said he had spent $1.9 million since he first entered the race — including an additional $100,000 contribution this quarter.
Though Trump makes a point that he isn’t soliciting donations so he can be independent from corrupting influences, about 75,000 donors gave him their money anyway for a total of nearly $4 million.
“While our original budget was substantially higher than the amount spent, good business practices and even better ideas and policy have made it unnecessary to have spent a larger sum,” Trump said in a statement.
Ted Cruz has the most money on hand in the field
Raised: $12.2 million
Cash on hand: $13.5 million
Burn rate: 57%
Cruz’s campaign said Thursday that it had $13.5 million entering the fall, thanks in part to a fundraising shop that marries big-time bundling with small contributions.
The fundraising success of Cruz, who is known for his strained relationship with business-minded donors, has been one of the top money storylines of 2016. Coming from Texas, Cruz has benefited from its donor-rich megacities, and Cruz easily outraised his competitors for Lone Star State dollars last quarter.
60% of Ben Carson’s huge haul came in small chunks
Raised: $20.8 million
Cash on hand: $11.2 million
Burn rate: 69%
The retired neurosurgeon said earlier this month that his campaign planned to post a haul of about $20.8 million, powered by hundreds of thousands of small-dollar donors recruited online. An enormous amount of Carson’s money — 60% — came in donations smaller than $200.
He has not yet filed his report, so it is unclear whether he had to spend a large percentage of money to raise only slightly more — as he did last quarter. His cash on hand figure will be heavily scrutinized.
Jeb Bush enters the winter in a strong, but not dominant, position
Raised: $13.4 million
Cash on hand: $10.3 million
Bush’s haul is large, but given the expectations of what he could accomplish, not jaw-dropping. He does have the largest super PAC in the race to draw upon, but the $10 million in the bank isn’t going to scare anyone away, especially rival Floridian Marco Rubio.
The former Florida governor drew on the fundraising network organized by two former presidents — his father and brother. But Bush’s haul is only slightly more than the amount he raised in just the two weeks he was a candidate in the second quarter, meaning he is likely more touchable over the long term than might have been expected early this year.
Marco Rubio is running a lean campaign
Raised: $6 million
Cash on hand: $11 million
Burn rate: 80%
The Rubio campaign didn’t wait to file with the FEC to tout its bank account, immediately flooding inboxes with its $11 million number as soon as Bush announced $10 million cash-on-hand.
But the quarter could have been better than it was. His fundraising haul is underwhelming for a candidate as buzzed about as he is, but his campaign says it is running lean and doing more with less money.
35% of Carly Fiorina’s donations came after her breakout CNN debate
Raised: $6.8 million
Cash on hand: $5.5 million
Burn rate: 33%
Fiorina earned her way into the second primetime Republican debate and then stood out on a crowded stage. The payoff: Coffers full enough to sustain more of a campaign than she was running before. About 35% of all her donations this quarter over $200 came in the two weeks after the debate.
The Republican businesswoman has long outsourced much of her field program to a pro-Fiorina super PAC, but she may be able to do more voter contact now that she actually has money in the bank. She only spent about $2.2 million during the summer months for a cool 33% burn rate.
Rand Paul spends nearly twice what he takes in
Raised: $2.5 million
Cash on hand: $2.1 million
Burn rate: 181%
Rand Paul is hemorrhaging cash: His struggling campaign spent more than $4.5 million in the second quarter, and he isn’t raising the money to keep up with that level of spending.
If he doesn’t either drastically scale back spending or somehow jumpstart his fundraising operation, he won’t be able to campaign for much longer. Expect questions about how long he plans to be in the race to only intensify.
Mike Huckabee has some money problems
Raised: $1.2 million
Cash on hand: $760,000
Burn rate: 61%
Huckabee has never been a strong fundraiser, but it is becoming more clear that his campaign’s financial success will be heavily dependent on the wallet of his main super PAC donor, Ron Cameron.
The official campaign is not in the money doldrums like some of his rivals, and the Huckabee’s path to victory doesn’t rely on an aggressive paid-media play.
Bobby Jindal is on death watch
Cash on hand: $260,000
Burn rate: 140%
The Louisiana governor has very little money and is bleeding fast.
His campaign thus far has depended heavily on two independent groups backing his bid — one of which is staging his events in Iowa. But there’s only so far super PAC money can legally take a candidate, and his lack of hard dollars should raise questions about how long he can stay in the race.
Jim Gilmore is running for president — barely
Cash on hand: $35,000
Burn rate: 67%
40% of Jim Gilmore’s money came from Jim Gilmore — he self-funded to the tune of $43,000. The longshot presidential candidate then spent almost as much on what was far and away his biggest expense of the campaign: the South Carolina filing fee.
Beyond that expense, there isn’t much evidence in his report that he is running a competitive presidential campaign.
George Pataki is the $13,000 man
Cash on hand: $13,570
Burn rate: 225%
The longest of longshot candidates has on hand $13,000 (that’s not a typo.) The amount of money in his pocket is approaching an amount that he could quite literally hold in one hand.
It’s hard to see Pataki in this race for much longer.
Why did Scott Walker drop out?
Raised: $7.4 million
Cash on hand: $1 million
Burn rate: 87%
Scott Walker’s abrupt departure from the presidential is made all the more unusual by the fact that he had $1 million in the bank when he chose to exit the race. His financial problems do not appear to have been imminent.
He still obviously went over his skis a bit in terms of spending, which is tough to do given his fast rate of fundraising. During his ten weeks as a candidate, Walker collected a healthy $7.4 million.
Buried deep in the report: the names of Alexander and Matthew Walker, the Wisconsin governor’s sons, who appear to have been being paid by the presidential campaign.
Rick Perry had $45,000 when he ended his campaign
Cash on hand: $45,000
Burn rate: 390%
The Texas governor’s fundraising numbers should make clear why he had to drop out of the race in September.
Down to only $45,000 — and with no clear sign that an uptick in cash intake was on the way — Perry clearly was about to confront questions about whether he could pay the bills. His campaign chose to not take on any debt.
His report will surely be unpacked to see whether the campaign wasted too much money in the opening stages. The top expense in the third-quarter: $200,000 to Abstract Communications, the firm run by Perry’s two most senior advisers.