The top line number for Ron DeSantis’ fundraising haul during the second quarter of this year showed some political force.
But beneath that $20 million figure were warning signs for the Florida governor’s campaign, buried in the details of the data.
More than $3 million of what DeSantis raised was funds earmarked for the general election — meaning donors gave more than the $3,300 limit for the primary and those funds will not be available to the candidate until after the primary is over.
DeSantis also raised $2.8 million from small donors giving less than $200, a number that most candidates in the race would envy but is likely to significantly trail Donald Trump, who had yet to formally file his report Saturday afternoon. A greater share of donations from small-dollar donors is a better sign for future fundraising, since small donors can be repeat givers.
But perhaps the most consequential data point was the pace of the donations. More than one-third of DeSantis’ itemized donations ($5.8 million of the $16.8 million of donations that came from those who gave above $200) came within the first 10 days of his campaign. A good chunk of his donations — $351,000 — came through a transfer from the Draft DeSantis 2024 Fund.
Taken as a whole, the report DeSantis filed with the Federal Election Commission on Saturday is a microcosm of his campaign to date. The Florida governor remains positioned to be a major player in the race — even one who could wrestle the nomination from Trump — with more than $12 million cash on hand at the end of the quarter. But he appears reliant on major donors. And the early allure of his candidacy seems to have worn off a touch.
DeSantis still has plenty of resources at his disposal. A super PAC backing him has attracted more than $100 million, though much of that was transferred from his state-level committee. (The group, Never Back Down, does not have to file its own reports with the FEC until later this month.)
Among the DeSantis campaign’s largest expenditures were those typically connected to fundraising. His campaign spent more than $900,000 on merchandise, the filing shows, and $883,000 on digital fundraising consulting. Offers of yard signs, tumblers and other merchandise in exchange for donations have been a regular component of the DeSantis campaign’s texting program.
Other significant expenditure categories included $867,000 toward media placements and $730,000 on direct mail, the filing showed.
The campaign also spent heavily on payroll, with roughly 90 staffers on the books.
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