What We Learned in the Latest Campaign Cash Reports
Financial disclosures show who has the early money edge in key races, as well as the value of a Trump endorsement.,
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A startling amount of money is pouring into American elections, especially the race for control of Congress in 2022. Every House and Senate candidate in the country was recently required to detail their spending and fund-raising through the end of September. Here are some takeaways, tidbits and trends from those financial reports.
How Trump factors in
Former President Donald J. Trump has been doing a lot of endorsing in Republican primaries ahead of the 2022 midterms. His backing is, by far, the most coveted in the party. But a Trump blessing has not necessarily translated to a cash boom for those Senate hopefuls he backs, the records show.
In Alabama, Mr. Trump is supporting Representative Mo Brooks — who has literally worked the endorsement into his logo — but Mr. Brooks was nonetheless badly out-raised for the second consecutive quarter, pulling in only $670,000 compared with $1.5 million for Katie Boyd Britt, a former chief of staff to Senator Richard Shelby.
In Alaska, Mr. Trump is supporting Kelly Tshibaka, a primary challenger to Senator Lisa Murkowski, who voted to convict Mr. Trump in his second impeachment trial. Ms. Murkowski doubled Ms. Tshibaka’s haul. In North Carolina, Mr. Trump’s preferred choice, Representative Ted Budd, was narrowly edged by former Gov. Pat McCrory.
In Pennsylvania, Mr. Trump’s endorsement did seem to boost Sean Parnell, who has been a regular on Fox News and whose fund-raising doubled in the most recent quarter. But Mr. Parnell still faces a former Trump-appointed ambassador, Carla Sands, in the Senate primary and she gave her campaign $3 million from her personal fortune.
In House races, Mr. Trump has made clear he is focused on defeating those who voted to impeach him. One such Republican has already retired. But none of the other nine House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump in January were out-raised last quarter by a primary challenger, with Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming setting the pace by raising $1.7 million. (In some races, challengers combined to out-raise the Republican incumbent.)
One notable fund-raising haul was from Representative Nancy Mace of South Carolina. She verbally lacerated Mr. Trump in January for his incitement of the Capitol riot but ultimately didn’t vote to impeach. She has since, as my colleague Catie Edmonson put it over the summer, “quietly backpedaled into the party’s fold.” Now, the $973,000 she raised is among the highest sums for a freshman.
The House leaderboard
Among the rank and file, the strongest Democratic fund-raiser in the House was, by far, Representative Katie Porter of California, who represents a swingy region in Orange County. She raised $2.7 million and spent only $1 million — and now has $14.5 million in the bank. That could help her no matter how her district is redrawn in 2022 — or in a potential future Senate bid. One problem with the latter is that the only House member with more money currently in their treasury is Representative Adam Schiff, another ambitious Democrat from California with $15.3 million in his treasury.
On the Republican side, Representative Dan Crenshaw of Texas has emerged as a top fund-raiser, pulling in nearly $3 million. But Mr. Crenshaw was spending far more to raise those funds: He spent roughly 88 percent of what he raised in the third quarter, records show, including more than $1 million related to direct mail.
On the left, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York continues to be one of her party’s strongest fund-raisers, bringing in nearly $1.7 million. On the right, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, the freshman congresswoman from Georgia, has continuously stirred controversy and cashed in along the way, raising $1.5 million, roughly the same sum as Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, one of Mr. Trump’s favorite pugilists on the Hill.
In the political center, two moderate Democrats, Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Tom Suozzi of New York, both topped the $1 million threshold.
Democrats have an early money edge in key Senate races
To keep the Senate next year, Democrats must first defend four incumbents up for re-election in the battleground states of Nevada, New Hampshire, Georgia and Arizona. The good news for the party is that all four incumbents far out-raised their Republican challengers, with Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia raising the most of anyone in the country, $9.5 million.
The picture is murkier in three Republican-held battlegrounds: North Carolina and Pennsylvania, where the Republican incumbents are retiring, and Wisconsin, where Senator Ron Johnson has not said for certain if he is running again. Democrats face potentially messy primaries in all three races as do Republicans in the two open seats.
But in each of the three states, the top fund-raiser last quarter between the two parties was a Democrat (not including those donating to themselves, like Sands).
In Florida, Representative Val Demings, a Democrat, has emerged as the surprise fund-raising star of the cycle, raising nearly $8.5 million — nearly $2.5 million more than the Republican she is challenging, Senator Marco Rubio. But Ms. Demings is spending extraordinary sums to raise that money — $5.6 million in the last quarter alone, much of it devoted to Facebook ads seeking new online contributors.
What campaigns are spending to raise money — known in the industry as the burn rate — is a key indicator, because it shows how much of what is raised will be available when voters are paying closer attention.
Of the top dozen Senate fund-raisers last quarter, Ms. Demings had the highest burn rate at 66 percent.
One Democratic senator on the ballot in 2022 actually spent more than she raised last quarter: Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire. She raised $3 million last quarter, but she spent $3.1 million. Records show she made a $1.5 million media buy to highlight her work for veterans.
The early ad was an unusual strategic choice. Most operatives believe TV ads that air a year from an election will be long forgotten when voting begins. But with money already flooding key states, the ad could be a chance to make an early, positive impression, especially with outside Republican groups on the airwaves.
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