President Joe Biden launched his highly anticipated re-election bid on Tuesday morning, exactly four years after he announced his 2020 presidential campaign. Biden kicks off his 2024 campaign with just over $2.2 million cash on hand between his campaign and joint fundraising committee, Biden Victory Fund.
But total fundraising and pro-Biden outside spending could blow past $2 billion, some members of the Democratic party told the Washington Post, setting the 2024 presidential election on a course to be the most expensive in history.
Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign raked in more than $1 billion over that election cycle. Outside groups, which are legally prohibited from coordinating their spending with the campaign, spent an additional $580.1 million boosting Biden during his 2020 run. Total spending on presidential elections more than doubled from $2.4 billion during the 2016 cycle to a record-shattering $5.7 billion during the 2020 cycle, not adjusted for inflation.
While Biden was the 20th Democrat to jump into the primary during the 2020 cycle, his only primary opponent so far for the 2024 nomination is Marianne Williamson. Williamson averaged less than 1% in polling before dropping out of the 2020 presidential race ahead of primary season, and the self-help writer is not expected to pose a serious challenge for the nomination.
A presidential announcement with 560 days until the general election may seem premature, but the spring preceding an election year is a typical time for presidents to announce their reelection campaigns. Former President Barack Obama announced his 2012 reelection campaign on April 3, 2011. Former President George W. Bush announced his 2004 reelection campaign in mid-May 2003, slightly delayed due to the start of the Iraq War.
Biden initially signaled that he would not seek a second term during the 2020 election, and after months of speculation about his plans, his campaign coffers are bare. But the president has a long runway and a proven track record of raising money quickly.
The Biden Victory Fund joint fundraising committee, which launched in April 2020, raised $650 million by the end of that year. His campaign, including money transferred from his joint fundraising committee, reported $130 million in receipts during the first two weeks of October 2020 alone, heading into the home stretch of the 2020 election.
During the 2020 election cycle, Biden made inroads with women donors and small individual donors giving less than $200. More than 48% of itemized donations to his campaign came from women, who donated in record numbers that cycle. Small donor contributions surged across the board, and Biden’s campaign received $406.6 million from individuals giving less than $200.
Retired individuals contributed more money to Biden’s 2020 campaign than any other industry, $137.2 million. That’s more than the second closest industry, education, where individuals and affiliated PACs contributed $68.9 million. Lawyers and law firms, civil servants and public officials, and business services rounded out the top five industries that gave to Biden’s campaign.
Big Tech companies were among the top contributors to Biden’s 2020 campaign, with individuals and PACs affiliated with Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, contributing $4.4 million during the 2020 presidential election. More than $2.4 million from Microsoft, $2.3 million from Amazon, $1.9 million from Apple and $1.6 million from Meta flowed into Biden’s campaign during the last presidential election. In February, Biden called for stronger antitrust measures opposed by all five Big Tech companies, asking Congress to “pass bipartisan legislation to strengthen antitrust enforcement and prevent big online platforms from giving their own products an unfair advantage.”
As he rebuilds his campaign war chest, Biden is not expected to face any serious challenges to securing the Democratic nomination in 2024. Republicans, on the other hand, are gearing up for a competitive — and expensive — presidential primary.
A brewing battle between former President Donald Trump, who announced his presidential campaign a week after the 2022 general election, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has not announced his presidential campaign, is already sucking millions of dollars into the political stratosphere.
Make America Great Again Inc., a Trump-aligned super PAC, has already spent more than $6.1 million on TV and digital ads disparaging DeSantis. The ads have hammered DeSantis for his congressional voting record on Social Security, Medicare and the retirement age, including in an ad that mocked the governor for allegedly eating a cup of chocolate pudding with his fingers on a flight.
Super PACs can quickly raise and deploy tens of millions of dollars to support their preferred candidate — and oppose their opponent. Pro-Biden super PACs already demonstrated their ability to quickly mobilize, raise and spend big during the last election cycle. That’s especially true for the two biggest outside spenders that supported Biden during the 2020 election, Future Forward USA PAC and Priorities USA.
Future Forward USA PAC had $800,000 on hand at the end of April 2020 and had spent $1.4 million to that point in the 2020 election cycle. The outside group ended up spending $150.8 million, including a $100 million ad blitz boosting Biden and attacking Trump weeks before the general election. Priorities USA, which had $19 million on hand at the end of April 2020 and spent $15.5 million through the same point in the cycle, spent a total of $139.4 million supporting Biden by the end of the cycle.
Anonymous donors poured millions into these and other pro-Biden super PACs, keeping voters in the dark about who helped Biden win in 2020. Future Forward USA PAC received $61 million from its affiliated 501(c)(4), USA Future Forward USA Action, and Priorities USA received $26.8 million from its charitable arm, the Priorities USA Foundation. Several pro-Biden super PACs, including Future Forward USA, Priorities USA, American Bridge 21st Century and Unite the Country, received multi-million dollar contributions from the Sixteen Thirty Fund.
“Dark money” contributions and spending supporting Biden’s 2020 presidential bid reached $174 million, OpenSecrets previously reported, more than six times the $25.2 million boosting Trump’s 2020 campaign. Dark money spending topped $1 billion during the 2020 election, largely benefiting Democrats.
Senior Data Analyst Brendan Glavin contributed to this report.