Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee raised $248m in September, significantly less than the $383m haul reported by Joe Biden and the Democrats for the same month.
Tim Murtaugh, communications director for the president’s re-election campaign, said on Twitter late on Thursday night that Mr Trump and the RNC had raised $247.8m in September, and had $251.4m cash on hand. Mr Biden and the Democratic National Committee ended September with $432m in the bank.
Mr Murtaugh said: “President Trump hits final stretch with strength, resources, record and huge ground game needed to spread message and secure re-election.”
However, the fundraising figures, which were announced less than an hour after the president wrapped up a combative town hall broadcast on NBC, underscore the challenges faced by the president with less than three weeks to go until election day.
Mr Trump currently trails Mr Biden in national opinion polls by a 9.5-point margin, according to a Financial Times analysis of Real Clear Politics data. He is also behind in several battleground states that are key to winning the Electoral College.
Political analysts have warned that the president is running out of time to persuade swing voters, especially given how many Americans are likely to cast their ballots prior to polling day due to concerns about the safety of voting in person during a pandemic.
At least 18.6m Americans have already voted early, either in person or by mail, according to US Elections Project, a database compiled by Michael McDonald, a professor at University of Florida.
On Wednesday, the Biden campaign reported that it and the Democratic National Committee had raised $383m in September — beating the previous all-time monthly record of $364.5m, which the campaign had set in August.
The strong fundraising numbers from the Biden campaign were bolstered by his decision to pick Kamala Harris as his running mate in August. In September, Mr Biden’s campaign saw another surge of donations after the death of Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
There was another spike after the former vice-president and Mr Trump faced off in the first presidential debate, which descended into an ugly spectacle.
Jen O’Malley Dillon, Mr Biden’s campaign manager, said that $203m of the campaign’s September haul had come from online donors, with 1.1m individuals donating to the election effort last moth.
The Trump campaign had spent much of the past three years building on its 2016 grassroots network and preparing for the president’s re-election campaign.
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But over the past six months, its significant cash advantage over the Biden campaign has steadily eroded. It enjoyed a $72m lead over the Biden campaign at the end of the first quarter, but ended with a $180m deficit at the end of the third quarter.
Next week, both campaigns will release their full Federal Election Commission reports for September and the third quarter, which will provide more detail on the money they raised and how they spent it.