There's one big pile of cash this election season that you shouldn't hate. Sure, money in politics is terrible, but Donald Trump in politics is even worse. The 2010 Citizens United decision opened up the Pandora's box of shady money influencing our democracy, and we definitely need to overturn it. Meanwhile, though, there's one new favorite ratio that you have to appreciate: 42 to 1. That's Hillary Clinton's fundraising advantage over Trump. It's huge, and it alone might be able to keep the Donald out of the White House.
As of May 31, Clinton's Campaign had $42 million in the bank, according to an FEC report filed Monday. Trump, on the other hand? Just $1.3 million. That's a yuge difference, as Trump would say. Add on top of that the cash her super PAC Priorities USA had ($52 million), and Clinton's backers have a total of $94 million on hand to spend even before the Democratic National Convention gets underway. Trump also has a super PAC, but fundraising just began and they have only raised about $500,000.
That will allow Clinton to spend huge sums on TV advertising. Even if Trump were a stellar candidate — and oh, he sure isn't — he would have a hard time changing the narrative that Clinton's camp is trying to paint. A big part of Clinton's strategy for November may mirror President Obama's attacks on Mitt Romney, painting him as out of touch.
Obama was able to do that, even without outspending Romney by all that much. Both candidates spent about $1 billion over the course of the 2012 election, and Obama's advantage was only about $104 million. That sure sounds like a lot, but not when you're talking $1.123 billion to $1.019. That's a ratio of 1.1 to 1 ... far from 42 to 1.
Clinton is already using the money to her advantage. The dollar bills must be burning holes in her pockets, because she has general election ads playing in eight general election battleground states like Iowa, Colorado, and Florida. The ad buy reached eight figures, which means at least $10 million. Not too shabby, Hillary. Not too shabby. Trump can't even begin to think about spending that kind of figure.
Clinton and her allied groups like the super PAC are planning to spend $117 million between now and December on television advertising — and that could go up. Trump and his supporters have committed just to spending just $700,000 at this point. That's remarkably puny in comparison — beating even our new favorite ratio by, well, a lot.
You'd think Trump would be more concerned. He is all about winning, after all. Perhaps it plays into his decision to fire his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, on Monday. Even if bringing in some cash becomes a larger focus for Trump, he will need to play a remarkable game of catch-up. Last month, he took in just $3.1 million, compared with Clinton's $28 million. There are reports that his June numbers are up, but they better be sky-high if he wants to stay in the game.
One remaining wild card is Trump's ability to spend his own fortune — the size of which remains a mystery, since he won't release his tax returns. If it's as large as he'd like us to think, that might allow him a bit of leeway with fundraising, as he could loan his campaign money when they need it most. He indicated Tuesday he might do just that while speaking on NBC's Today:
I spent $55 million of my own money to win the primaries; 55, that's a lot of money by even any standard. I may do that again in the general election.
We can hope he's too poor — or cheap — to do so. But if not, this magic 42-1 ratio remains on our side. And it only points to fundraising, outside interest groups, and the usually-dreaded super PACs standing up to Trump and announcing loudly and proudly that they're with her.