John Kasich, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, the final three Republican candidates running for president, began this month with drastically different campaign fortunes, new fundraising reports show.
In one month, Cruz raised what Kasich has collected over the entire course of his longshot bid. Trump, a billionaire, has raised relatively little money as he "self-funds" his effort.
On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders outraised Hillary Clinton for the second month in a row. But the Vermont senator still started March with about half as much cash on hand as the former secretary of state.
The presidential candidates — current and former — must file their February campaign finance reports to the Federal Election Commission on Sunday, as they look ahead to the next series of nominating contests — in Arizona, Idaho and Utah on Tuesday.
What we've learned on the money front:
KASICH MONEY STRUGGLES
Kasich, the Ohio governor, had about $1.3 million in available campaign cash as this month began.
That's far less than the $8 million in cash that Cruz's campaign had on hand as of the last day of February, although millions of those dollars are under lock until the general election.
Cruz, a Texas senator, continued to lap Kasich in fundraising. His $12 million in February roughly equals Kasich's entire campaign haul, dating to last summer.
Kasich's home-state win last week convinced him to stay in the race in the hope of emerging as a "consensus candidate" during a contested convention this summer. That could be triggered if Trump does not win enough delegates in the remaining primaries. Kasich has no mathematical path for winning the nomination outright.
Both candidates also benefit from outside groups known as super PACs. Several of Cruz's boosters reported beginning March with a collective $10 million left to spend. Add to that another donor-led super PAC funded by a $10 million contribution that remained mostly intact.
Kasich's super PAC, New Day for America, reported raising $3.2 million in February and ended the month with $2.5 million cash on hand.
TRUMP DIGGING DEEPER INTO HIS POCKETS
The billionaire businessman loaned himself another $6.9 million, bringing the total amount he's loaned to himself to $24.4 million. Trump's campaign manager has said the candidate has no intention of trying to recoup the money he loans himself.
And while Trump continues to boast about self-funding his campaign, he collected about $2 million in new contributions in February, bringing his total raised this cycle to $9.5 million.
He continues to spend big on private airfare, including more than $640,000 to his own airline. And he spent $3.5 million on placed media, including Twitter and Facebook ads.
Three billionaires supplied more than 80 percent of the cash last month for a super political action committee dedicated to derailing Donald Trump. The group is called Our Principles.
February fundraising reports show the Ricketts family — who own the Chicago Cubs and whose patriarch founded TD Ameritrade — gave another $2 million last month, adding to their earlier $3 million investment. Paul Singer, a New York hedge-fund billionaire who backed Rubio, gave $1 million, and Arkansas investment banker Warren Stephens also chipped in $1 million.
The group has reported raising $7.8 million since its inception. FEC documents show the group has spent at least $16 million attacking Trump — so far with little impact. The gap between reported income and expenditures means the majority of the donations to Our Principles arrived this month. Those donors will be disclosed next month.
GOING BROKE FOR RUBIO
Wealthy donors handed over $25 million last month to a super PAC backing then-Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio. And the candidate's official campaign had its best month yet, raising about $9.6 million.
It still wasn't enough. Rubio, a Florida senator, ended his bid after an embarrassing loss to Trump last week in his home state.
Conservative Solutions PAC raised about $58 million in support of Rubio and it attracted a surge of donors in the days after one-time rival Jeb Bush, a former Florida governor, dropped out on Feb. 20.
Poultry magnate Ronald Cameron was Conservative Solution's top donor in February, contributing $5 million. Cameron had previously given $3 million to a group backing former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, also once a 2016 presidential hopeful.
The insurance executive Hank Greenberg's C. V. Starr & Company Inc. and Starr International companies gave a total of $5 million to Conservative Solutions. Last year, C.V. Starr gave $10 million to a group backing Bush.
Sanders' campaign reported raising more than $43 million in February, outraising Clinton by about $14 million, federal fundraising reports show.
Sanders, whose online fundraising in small increments has set records, continued to draw substantial support from low-dollar donors. In February, more than 60 percent of his campaign's money came from people who had given $200 or less to federal candidates in this election cycle.
But the Vermont senator also reported spending about $41 million last month. He started March with about $17 million in cash, about half as much as Clinton's $31 million in available cash.
Clinton's supportive super PAC, Priorities USA, reported raising a little less than $5 million in February, half of its January haul. Still, the group began this month with $44 million to spend; representatives say they are preserving much of it for the general election.
The biggest donor last month to Priorities was Chicago media executive Fred Eychaner, who gave $2 million.
CARSON CASH CONTINUED
One hallmark of a failing presidential candidate is the struggle to raise money.
That's why Bush had to lend his campaign hundreds of thousands of dollars last month, fundraising documents show. And it's why New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appeared to end his bid owing roughly $200,000 more than he had in available cash.
Not so with political newcomer Ben Carson.
The retired neurosurgeon never won any of the early primary contests, and he suspended his campaign at the beginning of this month. Even so, in February he raised $5.7 million, and he had almost $5 million in cash at the start of March.
Carson was the top Republican fundraiser of the 2016 contest at the time he dropped out, but he also maintained above-average costs for raising that money.
Associated Press writers Chad Day and Jill Colvin in Palm Beach, Florida, contributed to this report.