Clinton, Bush Lead 2016 Fundraising Race As Cruz, Carson Exceed Expectations

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jeb Bush, two establishment candidates with long-polished fundraising machines, are poised to finish the first half of the year with the most donations in a crowded 2016 presidential campaign field where the money chase is the first real primary.

Republicans Ted Cruz and Ben Carson — relative political neophytes compared to the current bearers of the Clinton and Bush dynasties — also have exceeded expectations with their early fundraising.

The rest of the field has its work cut out for it in a race that analysts say will require candidates to raise in the nine-figure amounts to stay competitive.

“If you want to be in the top tier, you probably need about $100 million. First we thought roughly $50 million, but then we realized there was a lot more money out there than we thought,” said Ford O'Connell, a GOP strategist who worked on Sen. John McCain’s 2008 campaign.

“I do believe that all eyes will be on Jeb Bush. The question is, will his fundraising haul dwarf the rest of the 2016 field? If it does, he is officially the front-runner,” Mr. O'Connell said.

In such a crowded field, it’s crucial for GOP candidates to bring in big bucks in order to increase their on-air presence and improve their chances of getting into the debates, which will lead to even more donations, Mr. O'Connell said.

“The big question in this race is ‘are you on the debate stage or not?’ I think, for a lot of them, getting on the debate stage will make a huge difference in fundraising,” Mr. O'Connell said.

Read more from Kellan Howell at The Washington Times

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Analysis & Political Strategy