Party Fundraising Success Continues Through Mid-Year

Anthony Corrado
Anthony Corrado Former Brookings Expert, Professor of Government - Colby College

August 2, 2004

With only a few months remaining before the 2004 elections, national party committees continue to demonstrate financial strength and noteworthy success in adapting to the more stringent fundraising rules imposed by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA). A number of factors, including the deep partisan divide in the electorate, the expectations of a close presidential race, and the growing competition in key Senate and House races, have combined with recent party investments in new technology and the emergence of the Internet as a major fundraising tool to produce what one party chairman has described as a “perfect storm” for party fundraising.1 Consequently, both national parties have exceeded the mid-year fundraising totals achieved in 2000, and both approach the general election with substantial amounts of money in the bank.

After eighteen months of experience under the new rules, the national parties are still outpacing their fundraising efforts of four years ago. As of June 30, the national parties have raised $611.1 million in federally regulated hard money alone, as compared to $535.6 million in hard and soft money combined at a similar point in the 2000 election cycle. The Republicans lead the way, taking in more than $381 million as compared to about $309 million in hard and soft money by the end of June in 2000. The Democrats have also raised more, bringing in $230 million as compared to about $227 million in hard and soft money four years ago. Furthermore, with six months remaining in the election cycle, both national parties have already raised more hard money than they did in the 2000 election cycle.2 In fact, by the end of June, every one of the Democratic and Republican national party committees had already exceeded its hard money total for the entire 2000 campaign.3

This surge in hard money fundraising has allowed the national party committees to replace a substantial portion of the revenues they previously received through unlimited soft money contributions. Through June, these committees have already taken in enough additional hard money to compensate for the $254 million of soft money that they had garnered by this point in 2000, which represented a little more than half of their $495 million in total soft money receipts in the 2000 election cycle.

View the accompanying data tables (PDF – 11.4 KB)

1Terrence McAuliffe, Democratic National Committee Chairman, quoted in Paul Fahri, “Small Donors Grow Into Big Political Force,” Washington Post, May 3, 2004, p. A11.
2In 2000, the Republican national party committees raised $361.6 million in hard money, while the Democratic national committees raised $212.9 million. These figures are based on unadjusted data and do not take into account any transfers of funds that may have taken place among the national party committees.
3The election cycle totals for 2000 can be found in Federal Election Commission, “FEC Reports Increase in Party Fundraising for 2000,” press release, May 15, 2001. Available at (viewed July 28, 2004).