Donald Trump and his 2024 White House campaign are cashing in on the former president’s indictment and recent arraignment in New York City.
Trump brought in nearly $18.8 million in the January-March first quarter of 2023 fundraising, according to figures provided by his campaign on Saturday.
But the campaign also points out that most of Trump's windfall — $15.4 million — came in the two weeks following March 30, when news broke of Trump’s indictment, which made him the first former president in U.S. history to be charged with a crime.
Trump was indicted for allegedly falsifying business records related to hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in 2016 to keep her quiet ahead of that year’s presidential election over her claims she had had sexual encounters years earlier with Trump. The former president denies sleeping with Daniels and denies falsifying business records to keep the payment concealed. The president pleaded not guilty at his April 4 arraignment to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.
The former president’s campaign quickly capitalized on the March 30 indictment news, immediately sending out fundraising emails to supporters and running ads on Facebook.
The figures spotlight just how much the indictment and arraignment of Trump have energized his backers. At the same time, the former president increased his lead over the rest of the actual and potential contenders in public opinion polling in the emerging race for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.
GOP pollster Daron Shaw, who conducts Fox News surveys with Democrat Chris Anderson, said recently that the indictment news "has helped Trump quite a bit among Republican primary voters,"
Shaw emphasized that GOP primary voters "view the case as politically motivated, and it reanimates feelings that Trump is still fighting forces they see as corrupt and out of control."
An indictment for any alleged crime, the accompanying perp walk and ensuing court hearings may sound like a death knell for a politician on the ballot. But for Trump — who’s hardly a normal politician — they have so far been a gift.
The former president has long thrived on chaos and turmoil as he’s successfully portrayed himself to his supporters as a victim of the establishment, the "deep state," liberal forces and the mainstream media.
The indictment firmly put the 2024 spotlight back on Trump — where he wants it — and has made it more difficult for any of his rivals to gain traction, effectively freezing Trump’s position as the clear front-runner during the early legs of the primary battle.
"In the short term, there’s a rallying effect, there’s a fundraising effect, which Trump is going to fully employ," longtime Republican strategist David Kochel, a veteran of numerous presidential and Iowa-based campaigns, told Fox News recently.
The numbers show that boost. Trump was averaging roughly $170,000 in fundraising per day from the start of the first quarter on Jan. 1 until the news broke of the indictment. The former president hauled in a whopping $4 million the 24 hours after the indictment news.
The nearly $18.8 million in fundraising during the first quarter is a combined haul from two entities: the former president’s campaign (Donald J. Trump for President 2024) and the Trump Save America JFC (joint fundraising committee). The campaign is required by law to report by the end of Saturday its first-quarter fundraising.
Trump launched his third straight White House campaign in mid-November. Only two other major contenders declared their candidacies before the end of the first quarter. Both former ambassador and former two-term South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and multi-millionaire entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy jumped into the Republican presidential nomination race in February.
Haley hauled in more than $11 million in fundraising during the first six weeks of her campaign, from her mid-February launch through the end of the quarter on March 31. Fox News was first to report Haley’s fundraising earlier this month. Ramaswamy’s campaign had yet to announce its figures at the time this report was filed.
Fundraising, along with public opinion polling, is a key metric in determining a candidate’s strength and grassroots appeal. Fundraising dollars can be used to build up a candidate’s campaign structure and to pay for travel and ads.