GOP Senate Candidates Are Way Behind Democrats in the Money Race

AP Photo/Ben Gray

The GOP may be doing well in the polls, but when it comes to fundraising, Republican Senate candidates are lagging.

Why is that important? Fundraising says a lot about a candidate’s organization and the enthusiasm and commitment of his supporters. It’s also a rough indicator of how a candidate is faring in the race.


With less than four months to go before election day, several incumbent Democratic candidates are running rings around their Republican opponents on the fundraising circuit and threatening to bury some challengers under a mountain of cash.


It’s as if big GOP donors either don’t realize a Senate majority is in reach or wrongly think it’s a sure thing. And it’s clear they don’t like a lot of the Trumpy candidates.

Context: Democratic Senate candidates are posting blockbuster hauls.

  • Republicans could be surfing a tidal wave of discontent about the country (75% wrong track in Real Clear Politics average) and President Biden (39% approval).

What’s happening: In Arizona, the leading Republican candidate, Blake Masters, raised just $827,000 in the quarter ($1.58 million cash on hand) to $13.6 million ($24.9 million cash on hand) for Sen. Mark Kelly, the Democratic incumbent.

There are a few caveats to this narrative supplied by Hot Air’s Allahpundit.

After all, one of the subplots of the 2020 election was Democratic Senate candidates raising stupendous sums of money and then losing to Republicans anyway, in many cases badly. When Beto O’Rourke set a then-record for Senate fundraising in 2018, he at least gave Ted Cruz a scare in the general election that fall. Most of the Dems who raised mountains of cash two years later got trounced. Sara Gideon took in nearly $75 million, an amount so huge she ran out of ways to spend it. She lost by nearly nine points. Jaime Harrison set a new American record in South Carolina with $130 million banked, and lost by 10. In Kentucky, Amy McGrath felt just shy of $100 million raised and then fell short of victory by, uh, 19 points.

Angry liberals emptying their wallets to boost longshot candidates against Republicans they hate (Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham, and Mitch McConnell, respectively, in the previous examples) and then getting blown out anyway has become a venerable modern American tradition. Given the pro-Republican mood of the electorate, there’s good reason to believe that tradition will continue this fall.


In other words, don’t panic: we’ve seen this before.

This is true, except some of these races are going to be won or lost by razor-thin margins. The Warnock/Walker race has the Democratic incumbent up by three points. Mastro/Laxalt in Nevada finds the Democrat incumbent also up by 3 points. And the North Carolina Senate race between Republican Ted Budd and Democrat Cheri Beasley also has the candidates separated by only 3 points.

North Carolina is an open seat currently held by retiring Sen. Thom Tillis, but the other two races — as well as Arizona incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly — feature extremely vulnerable Democratic incumbents. Republicans need all three seats to be certain of Senate control.

Related: Red Wave Watch

But why isn’t the GOP cleaning up in fundraising if they’re odds-on favorites to win in November?

As the GOP becomes more of a working-class party, it stands to reason that small-dollar donations might dry up in a period of high inflation. In fact, that was one explanation given to WaPo by sources for why even Trump’s fundraising slowed down a bit in the first six months of the year. The first half of 2022 was the first time since leaving office that he failed to raise $50 million in a six-month stretch, in fact.

But that explanation only goes so far. Dem candidates have plenty of small donors too, after all, who are also feeling pinched by inflation. Yet Stacey Abrams has raised more than 10 times as much from small donors as Brian Kemp has. And Trump’s fundraising fall-off may have less to do with inflation than with his donors shifting their allegiance to the new guy: Ron DeSantis raised $45 million in the first half of 2022, outpacing even the Great MAGA King.


For all the money she’s raised, Stacey Abrams trails Republican incumbent Brian Kemp by 7 points. All that cash has not translated into tangible support for Abrams — yet. But the closer we get to election day, Republican challengers are going to find that there are always ways to spend money in a campaign.

As long as you have it to spend.



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