Vulnerable Republican congressmen are in a very difficult spot, with two-and-a-half weeks to go until the midterm elections. Democrats have out-raised them in every toss-up district, giving them a sizable advantage down the stretch. According to CNN, House Republicans have less than $40 million in ad reservations through the election, while Democrats have $60 million; third quarter fundraising data released earlier this week showed Democrats out-raising and outspending Republicans nationwide.
But one Republican has had little trouble raising money: Donald Trump. As Republicans were fretting about their financial woes earlier this week, the president was celebrating record fundraising. He has already raised $106 million for his 2020 reelection bid, much of it from small donors. But some Republicans are complaining that Trump is refusing to share the wealth with congressional candidates who badly need it. According to The New York Times, Trump’s haul has “prompted grumbling among some Republican strategists, who contend—mostly in private—that the cash would be better allocated to the party’s at-risk congressional candidates.”
Mitt Romney, who is expected to win the retiring Orrin Hatch’s Utah Senate seat in November, has entered the void, traveling across the country to raise money for Republicans in competitive races. In recent weeks, Romney has raised money for congressional candidates in Utah, Arizona Senate candidate Martha McSally, and vulnerable Virginia Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, as well as a number of other state and national politicians.
The disparity between Trump and Romney’s actions on behalf of fellow Republicans hints at an irony at the center of Republican politics. Romney, who famously gave a national address decrying Trump’s impact on the GOP, cares deeply about the party and its future, and is using his clout to protect its interests. Trump, as ever, only cares about promoting himself. And yet, Trump is much more beloved by the base, as his recent small donor figures show. It’s his party, even if he does little for it.