2018 Midterm Election: Congressional Democrats Crush The GOP in Fundraising
In what experts say could be an indication that 2018 may be a wave election, Congressional Democrats are whipping their GOP counterparts in fundraising. According to campaign finance reports recently filed with the Federal Election Commission, Democrats are showing fundraising success in both U.S. Senate and House while many incumbent Republicans in both chambers are struggling to keep up.
Republicans are also starting to worry about their chances of retaining the House due to President Trump’s unpopularity and their failure to pass significant legislation.
“It is a serious problem,” former National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) told the media last week. “It is a very rough cycle coming up. Nobody has had a good of year since 2002 and anybody that thinks the majority is not at risk or that he or she cannot be beaten is kidding themselves.”
Following GOP’s failure to repeal Obamacare, Republican senators are pushing tax reform to please their base and donors.
“There is a warning that comes from lack of fundraising success, and it indicates that your agenda or your lack of accomplishment is something people are deciding is a problem as they decide to contribute to a campaign,” former National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Jerry Moran (R-KS) said. “The fact that the fundraising is what it is certainly not a positive, but it does not mean that it is ultimately a problem. There’s time to recover from the circumstance of low numbers now.”
Even from the ten states carried by President Trump, Democrats are doing excellent by outraising their Republicans opponents, and nine of those 10 Democrat Senators raised more than $1 million in the last fundraising quarter. All 10 Democrat Senators have at least $3 million on hand, and seven among them have more than $5 million on hand.
Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) outraised her Republican opponent Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), who begins the Arizona Senate race with a significant cash advantage over any of her likely opponents with $4.2 million in the bank, outraised Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R-AZ) who recently announced his retirement. Democrat Doug Jones outraised former Judge Roy Moore (R) in Alabama ahead of their Dec. 12 special election, and Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) out-raised Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
Senate GOP challengers are struggling with fundraising as well. Only two Senate Republican candidates (Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) and West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrissey (R)) were successful in raising half of what their Democratic U.S. Senate opponents hauled in.
There is no doubt that things are going the Democrats way. “This has been an amazing year. I have never seen anything like it,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who raised $2.7 million and has $7.1 million in the bank, said.
“Our members are putting themselves in a strong position, and we see an increase in grassroots support and fundraising, lots of small-dollar contributions, which is a sign of increased political energy around the country,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) said. “If this becomes part of a larger wave that’d be great, but we are not banking on a wave. We are feeling like things are going as well as they can politically for our senators.”
The Democrats uphill fight to win back a chamber of Congress next year is more promising than the GOP. From July through September, Democrats’ challenging incumbent Republicans raised more money than 30 of their GOP opponents, including vulnerable members like Reps. John Culberson (R-TX), Mimi Walters (R-CA) and Steve Knight (R-NJ).
Some incumbent Republicans in tight seats such as Reps. Barbara Comstock (R-VA), Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) believe that many of the top-performing Democrats are going to drain their resources to win primaries. “It will be fun watching Democratic candidates bleed their campaigns dry on a futile mission to bolster their progressive bona fides,” said NRCC spokesman Jesse Hunt.
However, it is clear that the Democrats have the energy and significant early fundraising is often an early sign of a party’s success in future elections.
“Our members are putting themselves in a strong position, and we see an increase in grassroots support and fundraising, lots of small-dollar contributions, which is a sign of increased political energy around the country,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) said.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) have also out-raised their GOP counterparts throughout the year. However, the DSCC and NRSC have about the same cash on hand, and the NRCC has more in the bank than the DCCC.
The only exception to this pattern is that the RNC has $44 million in the bank compared to the $7 million for the DNC which is a primary concern for Democrats as they head into the crucial midterm year elections. The DNC is still recovering from long-term neglect, Russian hacked information and disagreement among Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton wings of the party.
The RNC in the meantime, is affiliated with President Trump who remains popular with the GOP base and helps the national party in fundraising. Super-PAC spending favors Republicans as well.
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