Biden and Democrats post record fundraising total in May

Joe Biden and the Democratic party raised $80.8m in May, the campaign’s biggest monthly tally yet, in a sign of anger over President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak and antiracism protests has energised his rival’s supporters.

The new totals released by the Biden campaign were $20m more than the candidate and the Democratic National Committee took in April, but is still unlikely to close a funding gap with Mr Trump, which according to the most recent government disclosures stood at about $150m.

Although Mr Trump’s campaign has not yet released May figures, it announced a new one-day online fundraising record of $14m on Sunday, the president’s 74th birthday. The most recent Federal Election Commission filings had Mr Biden’s campaign with $100m in cash on hand while Mr Trump’s had $255m.

In an effort to close the fundraising gap, Mr Biden’s campaign has expanded its effort to target grassroots donors, particularly through online advertising. At the same time, it has continued to cultivate high net-worth donors through Zoom-hosted fundraisers that are often focused on a particular state, or co-hosted with a high-profile surrogate — notably some of his former 2020 Democratic primary rivals.

Though Mr Biden’s primary campaign did not have the same grassroots support as some of his more progressive competitors, such as Bernie Sanders, Vermont senator, the campaign and its high-profile donors say there are now signs he is beginning to bring new Democratic supporters on board.

In May, for instance, more than half of the donations that Mr Biden’s campaign received were from new supporters. The average campaign donation was $30.

The campaign said it had tripled its number of online donors between March and May, and people involved with the campaign said they had seen growing support from more traditional Democratic donors, many of whom supported Mr Biden’s rivals during the primary.

In another sign Mr Biden was gaining from Mr Trump’s handling of the pandemic and George Floyd protests, the campaign said it had registered more than 1.5m new supporters in recent weeks.

The new fundraising totals come at a time Mr Biden appears to be widening his lead in national opinion polls, with some putting his lead into double digits.

A fundraiser last week with Kamala Harris, the California senator and a top contender to be Mr Biden’s running mate, brought in $3.5m, while an event with Tom Steyer, another former Democratic contender, raised $4m — a record for a single Biden campaign event.

On Monday night, a virtual Biden event with Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator, broke that record, bringing in $6m with 620 people in attendance, the campaign said.

Democrats “are fired up at every level”, Rufus Gifford, Mr Biden’s deputy campaign chair, told the Financial Times.

In a statement, Mr Biden said he was in “awe” of the amount that the campaign had brought in last month.

“I understand what these dollars mean. When facing uncertainty and recession, you chose to back me,” he said.