The FBI May Actually Be Doing Hillary Clinton A Favor

After a weekend dominated by the return of Hillary Clinton's email server to headlines, it is still unclear how big of an effect James Comey's letter will have on Clinton's lead in the polls. So far, there's evidence she's suffered a hit, but it's not clear how long it will sting. But while the election is still a week away, there is one result that's already happened: Clinton's campaign has raised a lot of money.

According to early reports, Clinton's campaign has claimed it raised $11.3 million in the 72 hours following Comey's letter to Congress. That's a pretty unbelievable haul, more than any other three-day period in Clinton's general election campaign. For comparison, Donald Trump raised $29 million in the first 19 days of October, and is holding on to just under $16 million in cash on hand for the end of the race, according to OpenSecrets.org.

It has been and will likely remain difficult to assess how the return of the email story will actually affect Americans' desire to vote for Clinton. Chances are most of the people who feel strongest about Clinton's private server were already not planning to vote for her.

What this new data point suggests is that just as Trump's most avowed partisans see this as further evidence of Clinton's terribleness, her most enthusiastic supporters are rallying around her in the face of adversity.

As for the large swath in the middle, well that's still hard to tell:

In a strange way, the bad news for Clinton from the FBI director has the potential to actually help her in the election. Before the return of the email investigation, Clinton's campaign was facing a potential problem of complacency, as she seemed prepared to glide into the presidency. With that previously near-certain result now in doubt, Clinton's most ardent supporters seem now more enthusiastic about pushing for her candidacy than before. This shows up in Clinton's fundraising haul, and could lead to a similar increase in volunteering, and perhaps a boost in turnout from those who support her but might not have voted.

But even with this boost from staunch Clinton supporters, the negative effects of Clinton's email story could still outweigh any fundraising or enthusiasm boost. Trump is likely receiving a similar boost among his partisans, and anything that is bad for Clinton among swing voters is a big deal for her support.

Meanwhile, there is one tangible benefit to Clinton in that fundraising haul: cold, hard cash. Clinton's team has bought up new ad spots in Colorado, Virginia, Michigan, and New Mexico. It's hard to tell if this is the campaign trying to hold on to a country spinning out of their reach or just taking advantage of money they didn't think they'd have. But it's clear that the money is being put to use.

Image: Bustle/Caroline Wurtzel