Joe Biden and his joint fundraising committees combined to raise close to $100 million in the second quarter on the backs of many new donors from the business community who have come off the sidelines to help him try to defeat President Donald Trump.
Biden's committees, the Biden Victory Fund and Biden Action Fund, are also raising money for the Democratic National Committee and state parties, making the massive haul even more significant for their efforts to take down Trump and Republicans as a whole come November.
Biden Victory, according to the latest Federal Election Commission filings, raised close to $86 million, while Biden Action brought in around $11 million in the second quarter. The two committees combined have more than $90 million on hand going into the third quarter.
Biden and the DNC outraised Trump and the Republican National Committee in the second quarter, with the Democrats raking in $282 million and the GOP pulling in $266 million. Trump's two joint committees combined to raise close to $150 million, with much of it coming from small donors to the Trump Make America Great Again Committee.
James Murdoch, son of conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch and former CEO of 21st Century Fox, gave $615,000 to Biden Victory in late June, which is close to the most a donor can give to the joint committee. Jeff Lawson, CEO of cloud platform Twilio, gave just more than $620,000. Meg Whitman, CEO of media company Quibi, contributed $500,000. Bob Iger, executive chairman of Disney, gave $250,000, as did legendary movie director Steven Spielberg. Dustin Moskovitz, who co-founded Facebook with Mark Zuckerberg, gave one of his biggest checks of the cycle to Biden Victory in late June, worth more than $620,000.
Ken Frazier, the Merck CEO who was once on Trump's business advisory council, gave $50,000 to Biden Victory in May. Frazier resigned from the administration's American Advisory Council three years ago in protest of the president's response to demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia. While he's given to some other Democratic causes this cycle, records show Frazier has also backed allies of Trump's, including committees linked to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Another donor that seemingly came out of nowhere to give big to the Biden-DNC committee is Eli Reinhard. He contributed over $620,000 to Biden Victory in June, his biggest contribution ever, according to data compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
Reinhard, a California-based real estate developer and philanthropist, has a mixed donation history. His previous biggest donation came in 2008 with a $10,000 contribution to the Republican Party of California. He's also given to former New York Mayor and current Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani's 2008 presidential campaign, and made donations to former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown's 2010 Senate campaign.
Biden's success also comes after numerous virtual big-money events that were hosted by billionaire Tom Steyer, Sens. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama. Outside Biden groups were also a boost to the former vice president. Anti-Trump super PAC the Lincoln Project raised more than $16 million in the second quarter, and American Bridge brought in close to the same amount.
Many of Biden's bundlers told CNBC that the renewed effort by these business leaders is linked to the fact that Sen. Bernie Sanders and more liberal candidates are no longer a threat to becoming president. There's also a sense that Biden is going to defeat Trump, with most polls showing the president consistently down against the former vice president.
Trump has been floundering in the polls since the early goings of the coronavirus pandemic and during the ongoing protests since the death of George Floyd, something donors have also taken note of and responded to with big checks for Biden in the month of June, as CNBC reported.
A recent CNBC/Change Research poll shows Biden ahead of Trump in the key swing states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. A Quinnipiac poll suggests voters are starting to trust Trump less on his handling of the economy. Only 44% of the survey's participants approve of the way Trump is dealing with the economy, compared with 52% from the month before.
"The big-money donors are capitalists. For a minute Bernie was close to locking it up, but then came South Carolina. They were petrified of Trump and horrified by Bernie. Now they actually have a choice, before they didn't," Florida businessman and Biden bundler John Morgan told CNBC.
Mike Kempner, who has been helping Biden raise cash since the early goings of the primary, points to Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the nationwide unrest that's pulling big-money donors closer to Biden.
"People are appalled by his actions and as a result are donating unprecedented dollars to Biden. With their dollars, people are showing overwhelming support for the decency of Joe Biden over the hate of Donald Trump," Kempner, CEO of public relations juggernaut MWWPR, told CNBC on Thursday.
A senior Biden fundraiser on Wall Street, who declined to be named as this person wanted to keep the remarks private, said that even Democratic business leaders who have seen their companies flourish under Trump say that they're fed up with the president's handling of the pandemic and other national crises, leading to their industries taking a financial hit.
"You knew Trump was crazy, but now you believe he is crazy and now he's going to hurt you more than he can help you," this financier said.
Another Biden fundraiser, who asked to remain anonymous, said that despite the former vice president saying he is going to raise corporate taxes, and in some cases, individual rates, donors believe his policies would be a balance of liberal and moderate alternatives to what Trump has put in place.
"Joe is a known entity, and while he is socially liberal, he is not someone who is erratic. He is thoughtful and focused on the entire country, not one faction of the country," this bundler said.