The Republican National Committee (RNC), under the tutelage of Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, is facing a significant challenge as its fundraising operation stalls, marking a concerning trend for the party’s financial health ahead of the 2024 election season. The RNC’s cash on hand has dwindled to $9.1 million as of October 30, 2023, the lowest since February 2015.
According to the Washington Post, the figure starkly contrasts with the $20 million held at the same point in the 2016 cycle and the $61 million during Trump’s presidency four years ago. In comparison, the Democratic National Committee reported having $17.7 million, almost double the RNC’s amount.
The decline in fundraising is attributed to various factors. Tennessee RNC member Oscar Brock acknowledged a “revenue problem.”
“We’re going through the same efforts we always go through to raise money: the same donor meetings, retreats, digital advertising, direct mail. But the return is much lower this year. If you know the answer, I’d love to know it. The staff has managed to tighten down on expenses to keep the party from going into the red.”
A key issue is the reluctance of donors to cut large checks to the RNC in recent years, coupled with a downturn in the party’s small-dollar program. Some donors are reportedly withholding contributions as they believe it might indirectly support Trump, whom they do not wish to back, while others prefer to wait until 2024 or have grown frustrated with the party’s leadership.
“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,” McDaniel said. “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.”
McDaniel has been serving as the chair of the Republican National Committee since 2017. Prior to her role at the RNC, McDaniel was the chair of the Michigan Republican Party from 2015 to 2017.
In 2017, McDaniel became the second woman ever elected as chair of the RNC. Her leadership has been marked by several key events and decisions within the party. She was re-elected to her position multiple times, most recently winning a fourth consecutive term in 2023.
Critics, including Virginia RNC member Patti Lyman, argue that the party’s electoral record since 2017 and the contentious chair election have demoralized the base, contributing to the drop in donations. The situation is further complicated by internal party dynamics and the upcoming presidential primaries, with donors currently more focused on individual candidates.
“The RNC’s electoral record since 2017 speaks for itself,” said Lyman. “The damage from that chair election goes far beyond the drop in donations. Our base was demoralized.”
Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy also publicly criticized McDaniel. This time, during the third RNC debate. Ramaswamy said that Republicans have become the “party of losers,” attributing part of the blame to the RNC.
“Ronna, if you want to come on stage tonight … look the GOP voters in the eye and tell them you’ll resign, I’ll turn over and yield my time to you.”
The GOP’s ability (or inability) to adapt its fundraising strategies and unify its base will be vital in determining its competitiveness in the upcoming 2024 electoral battles.