But not in this election.
And that's not all. His donor makeup is also giving him an edge over Clinton.
Here's what we mean…
Trump's Fundraising Lag by the Numbers
Currently, Clinton leads Trump by $298 million in donations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. She has raised $435 million total, compared to Trump's $137 million haul.
But most of Clinton's donations have come from wealthy donors and corporations.
Trump's, on the other hand, have been powered by mostly himself and small, individual donations. In fact, nearly $52 million of Trump's total fundraising comes from himself. And $37 million comes from small individual contributions of $200 or less. Just $19 million of Trump's fundraising comes from large individual donations (donations of more than $200).
Compare that to Clinton, who has $200 million in large contributions. These contributions make up nearly 45% of her total fundraising. Clinton has also only contributed $1.1 million to her campaign from her own personal coffers.
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According to the CRP, Clinton has received over $122 million in campaign contributions from owners and employees of hedge funds. Trump has received just over $19,000.
While the mainstream media touts Trump's depressed fundraising numbers as a weakness, they're actually one of his greatest assets right now. Here's why…
Why Trump's Fundraising Lag Gives Him an Advantage Over Clinton
The makeup of Trump's donor base, as well as his lack of corporate fundraising, increases his trustworthiness and populist appeal with voters. And that's especially important right now, when American citizens' trust of big corporations and their influence on government is at its lowest ever.
In a January Gallup Poll, 63% of Americans said they were "somewhat dissatisfied" or "very dissatisfied" with the size and influence of major corporations. That number is up 15% from January 2001 – the earliest date the poll was conducted.
In the same poll, 49% of Americans said they were "dissatisfied and want less" corporate influence on the United States. That number was 12% higher from January 2001.
Trump is – by design or by accident – playing on a big theme in election 2016: the general frustration Americans have with the intersection of government and big business. This theme also helped fuel the populist rise of Bernie Sanders, who, like Trump, also railed against the influence of corporate America on elections.
It's important to note Trump's fundraising lag with Clinton is tightening, albeit slowly. He raised $80 million in July, compared to Clinton's $90 million. And Trump could always decide to switch his fundraising strategy to target wealthy corporate donors instead of average voters.
For her part, Clinton, a seasoned politician, is used to a time when mingling with big donors was more acceptable. But much has changed from even just one election ago. Clinton has yet to play on Americans' distrust of "special interests" and big business. Instead, she appears to be courting the former and latter's favor.
And while Clinton may beat out Trump in advertising and campaign spending, Trump's fundraising lag – whether intentional or not – connects him more with average voters. And it's cheaper, too.
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