Republicans running in the ten most competitive races for the Senate are getting seriously outraised by their Democratic opponents. While five of the ten races feature Democratic incumbents, the fundraising spread is unusually large for competitive races.
Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock took office in 2021 after running and winning to serve the unexpired term of GOP Senator Johnny Isakson. Should he really be outraising Republican candidate and former football hero Herschel Walker, $83 million to $20 million?
And Florida’s Democratic candidate Val Demings is trouncing Republican incumbent Marco Rubio, $47.3 million to $29.1 million.
In the eminently winnable Arizona Senate race, incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly has raised $53 million to GOP candidate Blake Masters’ $4.3 million.
It keeps going right down the line. Democrat John Fetterman outraising Republican Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, $26 million to $4 million; Democrat Tim Ryan swamping Republican J.D. Vance in Ohio, $21.8 million to $2.9 million; and Democrat Cheri Beasley raised $16 million to Republican Ted Budd’s $6.2 million.
The problem isn’t big donors not giving. The problem is that smaller donors aren’t giving to the candidates as much as they have in the past. Part of that is Donald Trump’s grassroots fundraising being very successful — $99 million this cycle. But Trump has yet to share any of that cash with GOP Senate candidates and it doesn’t look like he will.
Peter Thiel gave a whopping $12 million to Blake Masters for his primary campaign. But Thiel is AWOL now that Masters is drowning, and the best chance for a Republican pickup in the Senate is starting to slip away.
Only where’s the would-be kingmaker now? Sitting in his counting house, the doors firmly locked. Mr. Thiel has abandoned the Arizona race, as well as the Ohio Senate candidate he spent $15 million to nominate, J.D. Vance. Mr. Trump is meanwhile using this cycle to hoover up grassroots donations that might otherwise go to competitive midterm candidates and so far refuses to commit any of the estimated $99 million in a leadership PAC to his endorsees. The Lucys have pulled the football, leaving the GOP’s Arizona project to fall on its back.
Criticism is landing on Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund, which recently announced it was canceling $8 million in Arizona ad reservations. But spare a thought for the outfit that has been left holding the Thiel-Trump bag. Resources aren’t infinite, and Mr. McConnell’s super PAC suddenly finds itself having to shovel unexpected millions into defending an Ohio seat that ought to be a breeze but in which (Thiel-less) Mr. Vance is struggling. It’s also defending seats in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. One Nation (affiliated with the Senate Leadership Fund) spent some $13 million in Arizona through Labor Day, and the fund will be playing on television again in October.
One area where Republicans are doing better than Democrats is in party fundraising. While individual Democrats have outraised Republicans in competitive Senate races, key Republican committees are outraising their Democratic counterparts.
The RNC has outraised the DNC $216 million to $170 million. And the GOP senatorial campaign committee has a slight edge over their Democratic counterparts, $153 million to $151 million.
There have been plenty of recent examples of candidates being seriously outraised only to win in the end. Having more money than the other candidate isn’t absolutely necessary.
But it sure does help.