Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have raised gobs of money. ‘Gobs’ are an understatement, of course: Both candidates now have enough contributions to make one of those fantastically expensive superhero movies. But in one specific way, their spending doesn’t measure up.
Take the August operating expenses for each campaign. (That includes salaries, postage, rent—everything that isn’t a donation to another candidate or a payment on a loan.) Then, shrink it down to the amount they spent in just five seconds:
Trump stomped on the accelerator in August, debuting his first campaign commercial and beefing up online advertising. Even so, Clinton won out by $36.73, or an extra $19 million over the entire month. That’s not surprising: The Clinton campaign fields a staff of hundreds, while some of Trump’s employees work in offices of nailed-together drywall. But as the primaries showed, Trump doesn’t need to outspend his opponents to be successful.
The Republican National Committee might view it differently. The RNC, stuck providing whatever on-the-ground infrastructure the Trump campaign’s organization lacks, dedicated 80 percent of its spending in August to operational expenses. The Democratic National Committee, meanwhile, sent the majority of its cash back to state committees. Clinton’s side now spends $110.55 every five seconds, versus Trump’s $82.69.
This doesn’t factor in super PACs, which spent $5.4 million ($10.06 every five seconds) supporting Clinton and $3.9 million ($7.35) supporting Trump in August. It also doesn’t account for the myriad joint fundraising committees funneling money to the campaigns and national committees; they don’t officially file their paperwork until October, but what they’ve transferred to the candidates so far should be reflected in existing filings.