By Nandita Bose
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -President Joe Biden’s 2024 reelection team and his Democratic Party said on Monday they raised over $97 million in the last three months of 2023, amid opinion polls showing voter concerns over his age, high prices and handling of the Israel-Hamas war.
The Biden campaign attributed the fundraising haul to “strong and growing grassroots enthusiasm;” his campaign also courted big donors in Washington, Boston and California amid a year-end fundraising blitz.
Campaign co-chair Jeffrey Katzenberg told reporters in Des Moines, Iowa, the campaign had a historic $117 million in cash on hand at the end of December, across several of the party’s affiliated fundraising entities.
“Team Biden-Harris is entering the election year with more cash on hand than any Democratic candidate in history at this point in the cycle,” he said. “We’re entering the election year with the resources, enthusiasm and energy needed to mobilize the winning coalition that will reelect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.”
December was also the single strongest month for grassroots donations since the launch of the campaign, Katzenberg said, with a total of nearly 1 million supporters having sent in more than $2.3 million in donations averaging just under $42.
The money raised from October to December surpassed the $71 million Biden and the Democratic Party raised in the prior quarter, and the over $66 million Barack Obama and Democrats gathered over the fourth quarter of 2011 for his successful 2012 reelection bid.
It was bested by the $154 million Republican former President Donald Trump and his Republican party raised in the fourth quarter of 2019, for his failed 2020 reelection bid. Trump and the Republican National Committee haven’t released fundraising numbers for the fourth quarter this year.
“Our democracy and hard-fought basic rights and freedoms are on the line in 2024, and these numbers prove that the American people know the stakes and are taking action early to help defeat the extreme MAGA Republican agenda again,” Biden’s campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez said in a statement.
The Biden campaign has raised $235 million since its launch in April.
The numbers come in as the state-by-state nominating contest set to kick off with Republican caucuses in Iowa on Monday could help seal Trump’s bid to become the Republican nominee to face Biden in November’s general election.
In recent months, the Biden team has faced growing calls to become more active and aggressive in highlighting the contrast with Trump, a pivot Biden has embraced at fundraising events.
Biden accused Trump of sacrificing U.S. democracy for power during a speech marking the third anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, attacks on the U.S. Capitol.
In December, Trump urged his supporters to “go into” Philadelphia and two other Democratic-run cities to “guard the vote” in 2024, repeating his unfounded claims of widespread election fraud in 2020 as justification for the call to action.
Biden’s campaign is searching for better ways to sell Biden’s economic accomplishments, dubbed “Bidenomics,” which has not resonated with voters.
It has focused its resources on boosting grassroots fundraising amid questions around the ability to bring in small-dollar donors, which often signal enthusiasm for a campaign. Katzenberg said the campaign also had more than 130,000 sustaining donors who have pledged to contribute every month, nearly double the amount at this point in the 2020 cycle.
Grassroots donors fueled Biden’s record-shattering $1 billion haul in 2020, with $700 million coming from small online donations.
Fundraising sums announced by Biden’s campaign cannot be directly compared with Republican rivals because they include party accounts controlled by Biden allies.
Republicans have not yet picked a nominee and are spending some of their campaign funds on their fight against each other.
Biden, 81 and Trump, 77, started the election year in a dead heat as many Americans appear to be unenthusiastic about their choices, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released earlier this month.
(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; additional reporting by Andrea Shalal in Iowa; Editing by Heather Timmonsm, Christopher Cushing and Jonathan Oatis)