Home / Economy / Articles / Tracking 2024 election contributions and spending

Between January 2023 and April 2024, US political campaigns collected around $8.6 billion for the 2024 House, Senate, and presidential elections. Over 65% of that money, about $5.6 billion, came from PACs political action committees.

Individual candidates have drawn over $2.0 billion, while party committees raised just over $929.9 million: $188.6 million for the Democratic National Committee, $130.1 million for the Republican National Committee, with the remainder coming from party committees at the local, state, and national level.

So far, the 2024 campaigns have spent approximately $3.9 billion of total funds raised.

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Political fundraising has brought in $5.0 billion since November 2023 alone— a 137% increase in total funding between November 2023 and April 2024.

During the 2020 election cycle, campaigns raised over $9.0 billion between January 2019 and April 2020, about $10.6 billion when adjusted for inflation. By the end of the 2020 cycle, they had collected over $25.3 billion, or $29.8 billion, after adjusting for inflation.[1]

Do taxpayer dollars pay for elections?

The US presidential public funding program give qualifying candidates federal funds for campaign expenses during primary and general elections. The program uses tax dollars to:

  • Match individual contributions up to the first $250 for eligible presidential candidates in the primary campaign.
  • Provide financial support to the general election campaigns of major party nominees and help qualifying minor party nominees.

The money for this program comes from federal income tax: the 1040 tax form asks taxpayers whether they’d like to designate $3 of their taxes for the Presidential Election Campaign Fund. This tax opt-in  — which doesn’t impact the taxes a person owes — is the only source of money for federal public election funding.

Members of Congress cannot use taxpayer dollars for campaign-related expenses, except in some limited cases outlined by the House Committee on Ethics.

From 1976 to 2012, public funding was also available to the major political parties' presidential nominating conventions and offered partial support for qualified minor parties' conventions. Legislation passed in 2014 discontinued support for conventions.

What are PACs?

PACs are private interest groups that raise and spend money to support candidates and influence elections. PACs can represent industry groups, labor unions, or individual companies.

When a political ad declares, “Paid for by Friends of X Candidate,” this may indicate a PAC at work.[2]

The way a PAC collects and spends money depends on how the organization is structured (i.e. the difference between a traditional, hybrid, and super PACs).

  • Traditional PACs are subject to both donation and spending limits. They can contribute up to $5,000 per election to a candidate, $5,000 annually to other PACs, and $15,000 to national party committees each year. Individuals, other PACs, and corporations can donate up to $5,000 annually to a traditional PAC.
  • Super PACs, also known as independent expenditure-only committees, emerged after the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision. These PACs cannot donate directly to candidates or parties but can spend unlimited amounts on political advertising and other election-related activities that do not coordinate directly with candidates or parties. There are no limits on the amounts that individuals or corporations can donate to Super PACs. Super PACs cannot accept contributions from foreign nationals, federal contractors, national banks, or federally chartered corporations.
  • Hybrid PACs operate with two separate accounts to accommodate different functionalities. One account adheres to traditional PAC limits and can contribute directly to candidates, while the other operates like a Super PAC, making unlimited independent expenditures without direct coordination with candidates or parties. This dual structure was made possible by the 2012 Carey v. FEC decision.

“The development of super PACs is one of the most recent chapters in the long debate over political spending and political speech,” notes the Congressional Research Service, and they “can substantially affect the political environment in which Members of Congress and other federal candidates compete.”

How much is being spent on the 2024 election?

Between January 1, 2023 and May 9, 2024, just under $3.9 billion in funding went to campaign-related expenditures. This figure has more than doubled since November, increasing from $1.5 to $2.6 billion in December 2023 alone.

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Most of the money spent so far has come from PACs – nearly $2.2 billion, or 56.5% of total expenditures as of April 2024 – which can fund political advertisements, ballot initiatives, and other activities that advocate on behalf of a candidate or political party. Candidates spent roughly $1.1 billion directly, while party committees laid out the remaining $545.8 million.

During the run-up to the 2020 elections, campaign spending reached $4.8 billion between January 2019 and April 2020, $5.7 billion when adjusted for inflation. By the end of the election cycle, expenditures topped $15.4 billion, or $18.2 billion inflation-adjusted.[3]

What counts as a campaign expense?

The FEC enforces restrictions on money spent on political campaigns, covering a wide range of activities. All expenses must be reported through a bank account monitored by the FEC Campaigns can use them for various endeavors aimed at influencing the election, including:

Examples of noncampaign expenses include:

Using campaign funds for personal use is prohibited by the FEC.

Which candidates have raised the most money?

In the presidential race, Joe Biden has raised the most money as of May 9, 2024 with $170.6 million, followed by Donald Trump at $114.8 million, and Nikki Haley at $57.2 million.

Candidates also receive assistance indirectly through their party committees and PACs, which can pay for campaign expenses like marketing and advertising.

The start dates for campaign finance periods vary by race. For presidential campaigns, the period starts in January 2021; for Senate campaigns it begins in January 2019; and for House campaigns, January 2023. Data for each candidate was collected on May 9, 2024.

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Through March 2024, presidential candidates raised a total of $570,366,034, with $347.6 million (61.0% of the total) going to Republicans, $184.9 million (32.4%) to Democrats, and the remaining $37.9 million (6.6%) to third-party candidates.

In the Senate race, Maryland's David Trone has raised more money than any other candidate, with $54.9 million – $3.7 million more than the candidate with the second-highest total, Ted Cruz from Texas.[4]

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Through March 2024, Senate races have raised $839,740,834, with $509.3 million (60.7%) going to Democrats, $275.8 million (32.8%) to Republican candidates, and the remaining $54.6 million (6.5%) to third-party candidates.[5]

As for the House, former Republican Congressman and Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy of California raised over $15.4 million for his re-election campaign – the most of any House candidate, followed by Hakeem Jeffries of New York's 8th District at $15.1 million. But as of December 31, 2023, Congressman McCarthy has resigned from Congress, and announced his withdrawal from the 2024 race. California Assemblyman Vince Fong has taken McCarthy’s place and has raised over $1.4 million as of May 1, 2024.

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In the 2024 House race, $1,116,375,035 has been raised so far, with $570.2 million (51.1%) going to Democrats, $541.2 million (48.5%) to Republican candidates, and the remaining $4.9 million (0.4%) to third-party candidates.

What happens to leftover money after a campaign?

After an election, candidates can allocate the remaining funds from their campaigns in several ways[6]:

  • Transferring funds between committees for the same office, either in the same election or between primary and general elections.
  • Allocating unused funds to a future campaign or different election cycle, if there are no outstanding debts.
  • Refunding contributions to donors.
  • Investing in recount efforts.
  • Charitable donations, as long as neither the candidate nor any member of the candidate’s family receives compensation from the charitable organization.

Rules differ for PACs:

In any case, leftover funds cannot be used for personal expenditures, including family and household costs, investments, promoting of personal works (e.g., a book written by the candidate[7]), and more.

Which candidates have spent the most money?

As of March 2024, Joe Biden has raised 48.7% more and spent 22.6% more than Donald Trump. In the Senate and the House, David Trone and Kevin McCarthy have spent more than any other candidate, $51.4 and $14.5 million, respectively.

How much have candidates spent so far?

Overall presidential hopefuls have spent $409,346,942: $278.2 million (68.0% of the total) by Republican candidates, $99.3 million (24.3%) by Democratic candidates, and $31.7 million (7.8%) by third-party candidates.

Senate candidates have spent $613,483,538. Here, Democrats take the lead with $381.1 million (62.1% of the total) while Republicans stand at $192.0 million (31.3%) and third-party candidates at $40.4 million (6.6% of the total).

In 2024 House races, candidates have shelled out $705,893,338, with $379.7 million (53.8% of the total) coming from Republican candidates, $323.1 million (45.8%) from Democrats, and the remaining $3.1 million (0.4%) from third-party candidates.

Where does this data come from?

This data was pulled from the Federal Election Commissions’ Campaign Finance Data page on May 9, 2024. The FEC tracks any money spent on the 2024 election, including funding and expenditures for candidates, PACs, and party committees. Data from these sources is updated every 48 hours, so the numbers reflected in the article have changed since our initial data pull.

While USAFacts is staunchly nonpartisan, analyzing the candidates' campaign finance reporting helps the public understand how campaigns are funded as a whole.

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Campaign finance data
Last updated
June 12, 2024
Last updated
June 12, 2024
Last updated
June 12, 2024
Last updated
June 12, 2024
[1]

Inflation adjusted to 2023 dollars using CPI data.

[2]

Party committees and candidates can also advertise similar messages.

[3]

Inflation adjusted based on 2020 calendar year CPI data.

[4]

Data for Trone runs through 4/24/2024 while Cruz's data only runs through 3/31/2024, so some of this discrepancy may be related to the three additional weeks.

[5]

A majority of Senate campaign financing data is reported through March 31, 2024. In a few instances, campaigns have reported data for April 2024.

[6]

Given that they are no longer actively seeking nomination or election to a particular office.

[7]

Personal promotion can, at times, be approved under specific FEC guidelines.