Biden Doubling Down on Fundraising Incumbency Advantage

Dr. Louis Perron
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The fundraising numbers for March are in. Joe Biden has raised $90 million, with $25 million coming from the legendary event in New York together with Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. He has now $192 million cash on hand. This is more than any Democratic presidential candidate had at this point in the electoral cycle.

Donald Trump had raised $66 million during the month of March and had $93 million cash on hand. He is set to catch up with Biden however as he hosted a record breaking fundraiser himself just last night. The campaign said it raised $50 million in one single evening, cash that the Trump campaign urgently needs.

I think – and have experienced myself – that one can win with less money than the opponent. But once the fundraising advantage becomes more than 1 to 2,  it’s a real factor in an election campaign. Money of course doesn’t win elections alone, but it gives you the freedom to do various things in a campaign, to try out new approaches and to be innovative.

In the case of a U.S. presidential campaign, a fundraising advantage also allows to play offense regarding the electoral map. Gone are the days when John Kerry was faced with the painful decision to either invest in Florida or Ohio. With this amount of money, Joe Biden can easily dump $100 million on long-shot Florida, if only to force Trump to spend some of his precious resources there.

Money also equals muscle in the ground game. The Biden campaign is wise to open a hundred field offices in swing states, 30 in the state of Michigan alone. Of course, this will be irrelevant if there is a nationwide swing. But given how close the race was four years ago, and promises to be this time again, the ground game can make the difference.

As I write in my new book “Beat the Incumbent,” fundraising is one of the big advantages of an incumbent over a challenger. I have never seen an incumbent that is not at least at eye level with the challenger in terms of money (the 2010 UK General Election being the exception confirming the rule).

It seems to me that Biden and his team are doubling down on that incumbent advantage.

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