Less than one year into a new administration, speculation is already in full swing for the 2024 presidential election. While no politician seems to have escaped the rumor mill, political spectators have honed in on two prominent state leaders who may be positioning themselves for a spot on the Republican ticket.
Governors Greg Abbott (R-Texas) and Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) serve America’s second and third-largest states by population, respectively. In their time in office, both Abbott and DeSantis have demonstrated an ability to rally not only Republican voters, but also conservative dollars. As some of the most impressive fundraisers on Transparency USA, here’s how the potential presidential nominees compare.
Abbott and DeSantis check many of the same boxes for the Republican party.
Both come from populous and economically wealthy states that are predominantly Republican-controlled. Texas and Florida will be essential for any candidate to win in order to gain delegates for the GOP nomination, and electors for the General Election.
Abbott is the more seasoned official, serving in multiple statewide offices, including the State Supreme Court, and Attorney General, before becoming Governor of the Lone Star State in 2014.
DeSantis was elected as Governor of Florida in 2018, after serving in the United States House of Representatives for Florida’s 6th congressional district, where he was a member of the House Freedom Caucus. Both are attorneys, but DeSantis also served in the armed forces as a judge advocate general in the United States Navy.
Political pundits have pointed to both Abbott and DeSantis’ notably conservative state regulations, particularly as it relates to pandemic-related policies like vaccination and mask mandates, as bellwether decisions for drawing early national support from the right. But it’s a delicate balance. Both are coming to the end of their current term as governor in 2022, and the appearance of national grandstanding could negatively impact their respective chances for reelection.
So just how much support are Abbott and DeSantis receiving to their campaign accounts amidst all the political posturing in 2021? We pulled the numbers, and it’s a lot of money.
Just how much money? Here is how the candidates’ finances stack up for the 2022 cycle, as of the most recent reports available for both states.
|Greg Abbott||Ron Desantis|
|Total Number of Donations||13,060||7,240|
|Average Donation Amount||$1,598.20||$4,998.51|
|Top Individual Donor(s)||James D Pitcock Jr, Kelcy L Warren, Kenny A & Lisa Troutt, Michael & Mary Porter ($1,000,000 each)||Kenneth Griffin ($5,000,000)|
|Percentage from PACs/Entities||19%||49%|
|Percentage from Individual Donors||81%||51%|
In the 2022 election cycle (the two-year cycle that includes all of calendar years 2021 and 2022 on Transparency USA), both Texas and Florida currently have available data through June 30, 2021. Texas officeholders have filed additional reports since that time, but differences in state reporting requirements mean newer numbers are not yet available on for Florida.
In the first half of 2021, Abbott raised nearly $21 million, while DeSantis raised over $36 million in donations. The donation numbers, while impressive on their own, are more astounding in context with the amount of money raised by governors of other states. As populous states, Texas and Florida generally have more money flowing through their politics than smaller states. But beyond state size, both governors are already outpacing their donation numbers from the 2018 election cycle — the last time they each ran for their current office. In that cycle, Abbott raised $44.8 million. DeSantis raised $60.2 million during the 2018 cycle to narrowly defeat Andrew Gillum. Both are on track to outraise their 2018 total by millions this time around.
Abbott, considered a conservative fundraising powerhouse for years, has seemed almost untouchable. Since assuming the governor’s office in 2015, Abbott has reported a total of $145.7 million in donations. A review by the Associated Press in 2019 concluded that with roughly $120 million in campaign donations at that time, Abbott had raised the most campaign cash out of any governor in history.
Since 2018, DeSantis has raised $105.5 million in total campaign donations. While Abbott continues to hold the “biggest fundraiser” title, DeSantis’ $15 million lead for the 2022 cycle has people adding “for now” to the end of that sentence.
If campaign finance numbers were the only factor to be considered in a presidential nomination, DeSantis would be the more likely candidate. Abbott may have more individual donors and an overall fundraising lead, but DeSantis has the momentum. In addition to bigger 2022 cycle donations and a closing gap on total funds raised as governor, DeSantis leads in other financial metrics. He has the larger support number from his top individual donor, fewer expenditures and larger average donation size.
And the early polls for 2024 seem to agree. Gov. Ron DeSantis is still polling near the top of potential Republican presidential candidates, just after former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence when they are included in the polling options. Opinion has cooled considerably on Abbott, who is barely registering as a popular contender.
With new reports expected for Florida in October, and ongoing campaign finance releases for Texas, it will be interesting to see how Abbott and DeSantis’ state leadership over the past three months is reflected in their financial support.
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