New FEC filings show no sign of donors abandoning Democrats

Strong numbers for House incumbents, and in Senate battlegrounds

Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., had $15 million more in his campaign account on June 30 than his opponent. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., had $15 million more in his campaign account on June 30 than his opponent. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Posted July 18, 2022 at 11:41am

Corrected 1:05 p.m. | The president’s party usually loses seats in midterm elections, and those losses can be significant when the president is unpopular and the economy is in turmoil.

Despite that climate, there is no sign that donors are turning away from Democratic candidates, new disclosures for the three months that ended June 30 show.

Republican candidates did better than Democrats, on average, in races for open seats in the House, where the GOP needs a net gain of just four seats to take control. But House incumbents in tough races posted strong numbers, while some incumbents in both parties were outraised, further proof that candidates and local dynamics still matter.

In the Senate, Democratic challengers and vulnerable incumbents topped the fundraising lists in battleground states, in some cases by many millions of dollars. That continues a pattern seen in 2020 of strong Senate fundraising by Democrats — but that year also saw several candidates who shattered records for their states and went on to lose in November. Also, candidate fundraising is only one piece of the puzzle, with party committees and super PACs able to spend heavily — though at much higher advertising rates.

For this story, CQ Roll Call looked at totals for the second quarter of the year, which in many cases involved combining totals from the latest disclosures and reports filed before primaries this spring.

Here are several takeaways:

Senate dominance

All told, Democratic candidates raised a whopping $53.4 million more than Republicans during the quarter in the 10 battleground states that will decide control of the Senate: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin.

And within each of those states, a Democrat was the top fundraiser, though only $25,000 separated Washington Sen. Patty Murray and Republican Tiffany Smiley after each raised $2.6 million. And although Wisconsin Democrat Alex Lasry’s $7 million did exceed the $6.2 million raised by incumbent GOP Sen. Ron Johnson, Lasry’s total included $6.5 million he lent to his campaign. Lasry still faces a competitive primary for the nomination on Aug. 9. 

Other Republicans were self-funding part or nearly all of their campaigns too. Pennsylvania nominee Mehmet Oz put in $3.2 million of the $5.5 million he raised, while Democrat John Fetterman raised his entire haul of $11 million from contributors. In New Hampshire, contributors only gave $21,000 of the $1.6 million raised by Republican financier Bruce Fenton, who is vying to challenge Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan. Hassan raised $5.1 million.

In Arizona, an extra $1 million from Jim Lamon brought his self-funding total to $14 million for the race for the GOP nomination, but primary opponent Blake Masters was close behind him in cash on hand on June 30, with $1.6 million to Lamon’s $2.1 million. Meanwhile, incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly’s $13.6 million haul left him with $25 million in his account and no primary to deal with on Aug. 2. The November race in Arizona is rated a Toss-up by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. 

In two other Toss-up races, Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada has raised $23 million more this cycle than challenger Adam Laxalt, which would be staggering if Georgia Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock hadn't raised $43 million more than Republican challenger Herschel Walker. Cortez Masto had $7.7 million more in her campaign fund than Laxalt on June 30, and Warnock had $15.4 million more than Walker.

Senate primaries

In Alaska, Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski continued to blow away challenger Kelly Tshibaka, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump after Murkowski’s vote to convict him in his 2021 impeachment trial. Trump went to Alaska earlier this month to rally for Tshibaka, but any financial benefit from that trip will show up in a future report. During the second quarter, however, Murkowski raised $1.7 million to Tshibaka’s $596,000 and finished the quarter with $5 million more than the challenger in her campaign account.

In Missouri, Trump has not made an endorsement, though he has said he opposes Rep. Vicky Hartzler, who led second-quarter fundraising in the GOP field vying for the nomination for the open Senate seat. Hartzler and Eric Schmitt each finished the quarter with nearly $1.5 million in their accounts, while former Gov. Eric Greitens was fourth in fundraising and had $352,000 in his account on June 30.

74 House targets

In the House, the National Republican Congressional Committee is targeting 74 races this fall. The list covers a wide landscape, starting with 16 that, in their 2022 configurations, would have backed Trump over Joe Biden in 2020. It also includes 30 districts that Biden would have won by 10 percentage points or more.

On average, Republicans did better in fundraising in 29 districts where there is no Democratic incumbent. The seats are open because the incumbent decided to retire, run for another office or in another district, or because the state gained a seat through reapportionment. In these seats, the average Republican candidate outraised the average Democrat during the second quarter, $409,000 to $293,000, and had a cash-on-hand advantage on June 30 of $469,000 to $314,000. 

It’s a different story in most districts where Democratic incumbents are being challenged, however. The average Democratic incumbent raised nearly $1.2 million during the quarter to the average Republican challenger’s $306,000. Those incumbents are also sitting on a lot more money, with an average cash-on-hand advantage of $3.8 million to $400,000.

But that wasn’t true for everyone.

Four targeted Democrats outraised

In Indiana’s 1st District, which is rated Likely Democratic, freshman incumbent Democrat Frank J. Mrvan was outraised by Air Force veteran Jennifer-Ruth Green, $654,000 to $381,000. Mrvan had a cash-on-hand advantage of only $177,000.

In Maine’s 2nd District, Democratic Rep. Jared Golden did outraise former GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin by $375,000, but both ended the quarter with $2.3 million on hand. Poliquin was ahead by $3,300.

The most vulnerable House Democrat running this year, Arizona Rep. Tom O’Halleran, raised $515,000 during the quarter and had more than $2 million in his account. In the crowded field vying to challenge him, only Mark Deluzio raised more than the Democrat, but $750,000 of the $772,000 he raised during the quarter came from his own pocket and was loaned to the campaign. The race is rated Lean Republican.

The only other targeted Democrat outraised during the quarter was Rep. Julia Brownley in California’s 26th District, who took in $355,000 to Matthew Jacobs’ $492,000. Brownley had $3.9 million in her account on June 30 to Jacobs’ $526,000, however, and the race in November is rated Solid Democratic.

GOP ‘Patriots’ on defense 

A handful of Republicans in the party’s “Patriot” program for incumbents needing protection this year had opponents or potential opponents who raised more money than them during the quarter. Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis of New York took in about $75,000 less than Democratic former Rep. Max Rose but ended the quarter with $2.6 million to Rose’s $1.9 million. That race had been shaping up to be one of the GOP’s toughest, but it is now rated Likely Republican after the Democrats’ attempt to draw a district map that made Malliotakis more vulnerable was thrown out by New York’s highest court.

Four other outraised Patriots — Reps. David Valadao of California, Peter Meijer of Michigan, Yvette Herrell of New Mexico and Steve Chabot of Ohio — are in races rated Toss-up. Chabot also finished the quarter with less in his campaign account than his challenger. He had $747,000 to Democrat Greg Landsman’s $815,000.

The latest addition to the Patriot program, newly sworn-in Texas Rep. Mayra Flores, reported just $114,000 in her campaign account as of July 4 after winning a special election last month and flipping what had been a Democratic seat. The district is changing, however, and she’ll face Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez in November. Gonzalez ended the quarter with $1.4 million in his account, and that race is rated Likely Democratic.  

Trump targets

Meijer had $1.4 million in his campaign account on June 30, while rematch challenger Hillary Scholten had $902,000, but she took in about $65,000 more than Meijer during the quarter. Before they square off, Meijer faces an Aug. 2 primary challenge from John Gibbs, who was endorsed by Trump because Meijer voted for impeachment in January 2021. Gibbs’ fundraising for the quarter of $216,000 was less than half of Meijer’s total, and Gibbs had just $125,000 in his account on June 30.

Valadao also voted for impeachment, but he made it onto the November ballot in the June 7 all-party primary after a Republican challenger came within 1,310 votes of knocking him off. 

Other Republicans who voted for impeachment posted the best fundraising numbers in their districts. Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler raised $583,000 to Trump-backed primary challenger Joseph Kent’s $324,000. She had $1.1 million in her account at the end of the quarter to Kent’s $545,000.

And Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming continued to tap a flood of contributions, raising more than $2.9 million to GOP challenger Harriet Hageman’s $1.8 million. Cheney ended the quarter with $6.9 million in her account to Hageman’s $1.4 million. That primary is Aug. 19.

Ryan Kelly contributed to this report.

This report has been corrected to show accurate cash-on-hand and total fundraising for the election cycle for Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Raphael Warnock.