Here’s How Much Republican Presidential Candidates Shelled Out On Losing Bids

More than a half dozen major Republican candidates have now dropped out of the party’s presidential primary after their campaigns and allied super PACs collectively spent more than $300 million on their ill-fated electoral bids, Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings show.

The presidential campaigns of Ron DeSantisDoug BurgumTim ScottAsa HutchinsonVivek RamaswamyChris ChristieMike Pence and Francis Suarez, alongside super PACs that boosted them, spent at least $327 million during the 2024 election cycle, according to FEC records. DeSantis is the most recent candidate to have dropped out, with his presidential effort having cost roughly $160 million between the Florida governor’s campaign committee and Never Back Down, the super PAC boosting his candidacy.

Former DeSantis staffers cited a lack of organization, inexperienced leadership, poor communication strategy and encumbering micromanagement among the problems plaguing the campaign, the Daily Caller previously reported. Multiple staffers identified the Florida governor’s virtual campaign launch via X, which suffered from connectivity issues, as an early sign that the campaign would not do well.

Vivek Ramaswamy’s effort was the second most expensive among failed GOP presidential hopefuls with his campaign spending $35.5 million and American Exceptionalism PAC, the main super PAC supporting him, spending an additional $8.4 million, according to FEC filings.

A spokesperson for the Ramaswamy campaign previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation that Ramaswamy was his own biggest donor and that “other campaigns dwarfed our spending.”

Hundreds of millions of dollars taken in from donors were not enough to dethrone former President Donald Trump from his dominant position in the primary. No candidate ever surpassed Trump in FiveThirtyEight’s running average of primary polls, and the former president’s support has only grown among Republicans as the primary season has progressed.

Trump was sitting at an average of 45.9% support in the Republican primary as of Jan. 9, 2023, according to FiveThirtyEight. That figure has since surged to 73.4% as of Feb. 5.

The DCNF included the campaign committees of major Republican candidates alongside the top super PAC boosting them in its analysis of FEC filings.

Super PACs included in the DCNF’s review of FEC filings were the pro-Burgum Best of America PAC, the pro-Scott Trust In The Mission PAC, the pro-Hutchinson America Strong & Free Action PAC, the pro-Ramaswamy American Exceptionalism PAC, the pro-Christie Tell It Like It Is PAC, the pro-Suarez SOS America PAC, the pro-DeSantis Never Back Down PAC and the pro-Pence Committed to America PAC.

Campaign committee and PAC records filed with the FEC cover expenditures for the entirety of 2023. Tim Scott’s presidential campaign has yet to post its year-end report, with its most recent numbers only covering up to September 2023, making the DCNF’s figure a slight undercount of the cost incurred by failed Republican presidential candidates.

Nikki Haley became the only remaining major challenger to Trump after DeSantis dropped out on Jan. 21.

Between the former South Carolina governor’s presidential campaign and SFA Fund, the main super PAC boosting her, almost $87 million has been spent on her presidential bid, according to FEC filings.

Despite the big spending, Haley has lost two contests in a row and trails the former president by more than fifty points in national polling, according to FiveThirtyEight’s average.

Some candidates spent large sums of cash gathered from donors only to drop out before the first primary election.

Christie, for instance, spent more than $5 million through his campaign committee and dropped out on Jan. 10, less than a week before the Iowa caucus. Tell It Like It Is, the largest pro-Christie super PAC, spent an additional $9.6 million supporting him.

Burgum, who dropped out before the Iowa caucus as well, spent $17.8 million through his campaign committee and was boosted by $23.9 million in spending from the pro-Burgum Best of America PAC, according to FEC filings.

Suarez, Scott and Pence, who also ended their candidacies before the Iowa caucus, spent millions through their campaign committees, according to FEC disclosures. Super PACs boosting each of the candidates collectively spent millions more.

Robert Schmad on February 5, 2024

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