The new numbers are being circulated by the campaigns ahead of a deadline next week to report fundraising to federal regulators. The quarterly figures mark a practical and symbolic measure of strength for all presidential candidates, but they don’t tell the whole story.
Republican Rand Paul raised about $2.5 million in the third quarter for his 2016 presidential campaign, a sharp slowdown from the prior three months and a number that could underscore worries about the viability of his campaign.
The total reported by the Paul campaign on Thursday for the three months ended in September was just over a third of the $7 million that the U.S. senator from Kentucky raised in the second quarter.
Several candidates struggled to raise money over the summer months, with celebrity real estate mogul Donald Trump commanding attention in what remains a 15-candidate fight for the nomination.
So far it appears that another political outsider, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, is leading in quarterly fundraising. His campaign said last week it raised $20 million between July 1 and Sept. 30. Rubio’s campaign briefed donors who have gathered at a retreat in Las Vegas.
Cruz’s figures were released by his campaign Thursday night.
Most of the 2016 presidential candidates also benefit from allied super PACs and nonprofit groups that can raise and spend unlimited sums of money on their behalf. The campaigns are not legally allowed to coordinate with those groups, however.
Rubio’s campaign started October with $11 million cash on hand, according to Thursday’s donor briefing. That’s about what Carson had in the bank after expenses, suggesting that Rubio’s team is spending its resources more cautiously than some of his competitors.
Both Cruz’s and Rubio’s campaigns sought to project momentum heading into the fall.
The Cruz campaign noted it raised more than $1 million in the final 24 hours of September.
The attendee at Rubio’s donor retreat said fundraising improved in September, when it raised $1 million in online donations alone. October, which wasn’t included in the quarterly total, will be the campaign’s best month so far, according to the briefing the Rubio donor attended.
Jeb Bush is expected to surpass his $11.4 million haul from last quarter, according to people involved with the campaign. That’s more money than some donors expected and may alleviate some concerns about his decline in the polls. However, Mr. Bush’s fundraising pace has slowed considerably over the last three months as he lost his front-runner status to Donald Trump. In the second quarter, Mr. Bush raised $11.4 million in just 15 days, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Bush’s supporters are counting on the super PAC backing him, Right to Rise, to offset any rival’s campaign fundraising advantage. Right to Rise raised a record-setting $103 million in the first six months of 2015. It isn’t required to report its contributions and expenses to the FEC until Jan. 31, just days before Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina host the first nominating contests.