Senate Democrats in this year’s toughest re-election races raised more than twice as much as their Republican opponents during the first quarter of 2018, while the GOP burned resources on primary fights in multiple states.
The 10 Democratic incumbents running in the November election from states won by President Donald Trump raised a combined $24.4 million in the first three months of the year, while the Republicans with at least $50,000 in their bank accounts in those states — 20 in all competing in eight contested primaries — raised $9.4 million, a Bloomberg analysis of filings with the Senate Office of Public Records shows.
Republican campaigns in the 10 states collectively spent $12.4 million during the quarter, while Democrats went through $9.6 million. The spending pattern is the reverse of House races where a bumper crop of Democratic candidates has triggered numerous primary fights that are draining resources.
The 10 Senate Democrats had a combined $78.4 million in their campaign accounts as of March 31, more than two-and-a-half times as much as the combined $28.6 million held by the Republican field of candidate. Some of the Republican primaries in those states won’t be completed until August.
The early Democratic fundraising edge comes as the party faces a much more challenging Senate map this year than Republicans, even as other signs point to Democratic gains in the November election to decide control of Congress. Democrats and independents who caucus with them are defending 26 seats, while Republicans are protecting just eight.
The fundraising advantage Democrats now enjoy could take the party from playing defense in Senate races to going on offense and making a challenge for GOP-held seats, said Bob Biersack, a 30-year veteran of the Federal Election Commission who is now a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign-finance watchdog in Washington. “The longer it goes this way, the more it becomes not a question of whether there will be a wave, but how big it will be,” he said.