The committee's cash on hand has plummeted to a mere $9.1 million, marking the lowest amount reported to the Federal Election Commission since February 2015.
The Washington Post reports that at a comparable stage in the 2016 election cycle, the RNC boasted a significantly healthier balance of approximately $20 million. Even more striking is the comparison to four years ago when President Trump was in office, and the committee held a robust $61 million.
In contrast, as of October 30, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) reported a cash balance of $17.7 million, nearly double that of the RNC.
Oscar Brock, a Tennessee RNC member, attributes the financial shortfall to a "revenue problem." Despite employing the same fundraising strategies as in previous years, including donor meetings, retreats, digital advertising, and direct mail, the returns have been disappointingly low. Brock commended the staff for managing to tighten expenses to prevent the party from going into the red.
Insiders familiar with the party's finances revealed that the committee has received fewer large checks from donors in recent years. The party's small-dollar program has also taken a hit. Some donors have expressed reluctance to contribute to the committee due to perceived ties to Trump, while others are holding off until 2024. There is also a growing sense of frustration with the party's leadership.
Both the RNC and DNC have experienced a decline in donations since 2021. Party operatives attribute this to a combination of inflation and donor fatigue. During certain periods of the Trump presidency, the DNC had roughly the same amount of money as the RNC currently holds.
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel suggested that donors are currently more inclined to support individual candidates. She anticipates that donations to the party will increase once a nominee is selected.
McDaniel explained, "I think there's more donors just fully committed to their candidate right now, saying I am all in, and once the nominee is set, I’ll be there. That’s what I hear more than anything. And they’re really solidly in the camps of their candidate, which is normal. There’s nothing unusual about this, because they know that once their candidate gets in that we will merge and that we’ll be working together to win the White House.”
However, some RNC members believe that the decline in donations is a direct result of McDaniel's reelection in early 2023 following a contentious race. Patti Lyman, a Virginia RNC member who opposed McDaniel's reelection, argued that the RNC's electoral record since 2017 speaks volumes. She believes the fallout from the chair election extends beyond the drop in donations, leading to a demoralized base.
This financial crisis coincides with growing concerns about the RNC from both Trump and fellow candidate Vivek Ramaswamy. Calls for McDaniel's resignation have also been made.
During the third RNC debate in early November, Ramaswamy expressed his dissatisfaction with the current state of the Republican Party. He criticized the party's recent electoral performance under McDaniel's leadership and called for accountability within the party.
In a post on Truth Social last week, Trump suggested that the RNC should cease debates due to low ratings and instead use the funds to combat Democrats. He wrote, "RNC must save money on lowest ever ratings debates. Use it against the Democrats to STOP THE STEAL! If not, REVAMP THE RNC, NOW."
As the 2024 election approaches, the RNC faces the daunting task of rebuilding its financial reserves while addressing internal discord and external criticism. The party's ability to navigate these challenges will undoubtedly shape its future trajectory and electoral prospects.