The $1.5 million that Donald Trump has allegedly raised off his looming indictment appears to be causing some agitation within the former president’s orbit, likely because, as insiders will agree, $1.5 million isn’t actually a huge sum compared to his past scandal-adjacent fundraising blitzes. After the F.B.I. raid at Mar-a-Lago, for instance, Trump raised $2 million in two days, per The Washington Post. He also raised $40 million in the first quarter of 2021, post-Jan. 6. But his best fundraising days may be behind him, such as when he raised $11.5 million on the day the Access Hollywood tape emerged. Simply put, indictment or no indictment, the grassroots supporters simply aren’t opening their checkbook the way they used to.
Obviously, there may be a surge if Trump really is arrested, as he predicted earlier this week. Nevertheless, it just goes to show that Trump is no longer the exception to the small-dollar fundraising drought that has been affecting all Republicans. His defenders say fundraising is down, in part, because of all of the email spam over the last cycle, which suggests that his base is only temporarily tapped out. But if small-dollar fundraising was his super power, he seems to have lost it.
Of course, this is especially problematic for Trump, who can no longer rely on Republican mega-donors to fill the gaps. Indeed, most of the party’s prominent moneymen are now swarming around the promise of DeSantis. For months, I’ve been hearing from top donors that it’s not just Trump fatigue or having to bail out his weak candidates last cycle, like J.D. Vance and Blake Masters. Fundraising events at Mar-a-Lago just feel stale, they tell me. Donors are tired of the Trump golf outings, too. It used to feel like an exclusive opportunity when Lindsey Graham and Trump would take 20 to 30 donors out for a round at one of the ex-president’s clubs. But these outings have become less special since candidates like Herschel Walker, Dr. Oz, and Vance copied the golf fundraiser playbook at his many golf courses.