Nevada Democratic U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto at the 2018 state party victory party. Cortez Masto is chair of the 2020 Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. (Nevada Current file photo)
If you had to chair the Democratic effort to help U.S. Senate candidates raise money, 2020 was a good cycle to do it.
Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto is the chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee this cycle, (a job has pitted her efforts against those of deep-pocketed resort industry donors right in her own back yard).
The clearest Democratic route to overturning Republican control is through flipping GOP-held seats in Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and either Iowa or North Carolina, according to experts who track Senate races. But even Republican-held seats in typically red states like Georgia, South Carolina and Montana have grown surprisingly competitive in the final weeks before the election, and close results could mean a delayed final verdict on the Senate majority.
Polls show Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden maintaining leads in the national popular vote as well as in battleground states. If Biden wins, the former vice president is all but guaranteed to be working with a Democratic House. And if Democrats flip the Senate as well, they would have the votes in Congress to push through to the Oval Office their most pressing priority—broad economic relief for Americans, businesses and state and local governments struggling amid the pandemic.
The key for the party is the Senate, where Republicans control 53 seats to Democrats’ 45, along with two independents who caucus with them. Democrats need four more seats or just three if Biden claims the White House, since the vice president would break any ties on the Senate floor. A change in the majority now appears possible—though by no means certain— after a year of multiple crises: the coronavirus pandemic, widespread protests over racial injustice and an economic collapse.
With analysts and polls indicating Democrats have a good chance of taking control of the Senate, enthusiasm has bolstered the DSCC’s fundraising – the group raised $43 million in September, smashing previous single-month fundraising records.
Democratic enthusiasm has also benefited the individual Democratic Senate campaigns. Democratic candidates in multiple competitive races are outraising — and outspending — their Republican opponents.
Below are the top states for contributions to U.S. Senate candidates in 2020, as compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. The numbers reflect contributions to candidate committees and do not include outside spending.
(To help put these numbers in context, in the 2018 Nevada U.S. Senate race, one of the most-watched and competitive in the nation that year, Republican Dean Heller’s campaign raised $15.1 million, and Democrat Jacky Rosen’s raised $25.6 million.)
1. South Carolina total: $174.4 million
(R) Sen. Lindsey Graham raised $66.8 million; spent $60 million
(D) Jamie Harrison raised $107.5 million, spent $104 million
2. Arizona total: $144.5 million
(R) Sen. Martha McSally raised $55.7 million; spent $47.5 million
(D) Mark Kelly raised $88.8 million; spent $77.8 million
3. Kentucky total: $143.5 million
(R) Sen. Mitch McConnell raised $55.5 million; spent $43.9 million
(D) Amy McGrath raised $88 million; spent $73 million
4. Maine total: $95 million
(R) Sen. Susan Collins raised $26.5 million; spent $23 million
(D) Sara Gideon raised $68.5 million; spent $47.9 million
5. Michigan total: $79.5 million
(D) Sen. Gary Peters raised $42.5 million; spent $38.8 million
(R) John James raised $37 million; spent $31 million
6. Iowa total: $70.5 million
(R) Sen. Joni Ernst raised $23.5 million; spent $21 million
(D) Theresa Greenfield raised $47 million; spent $43 million
7. Montana total: $69.7 million
(R) Sen. Steven Daines raised $27 million; spent $26 million
(D) Steve Bullock raised $42.7 million; spent $38.6 million
8. North Carolina total: $67.7 million
(R) Sen. Thom Tillis raised $21 million; spent $18 million
(D) Cal Cunningham raised $46.7 million; spent $45.9 million
9. Colorado total: $65 million
(R) Sen. Cory Gardner raised $26 million; spent $22 million
(D) John Hickenlooper raised $39 million; spent $35 million
10. Texas total: $54.7 million
(R) Sen. John Cornyn raised $30.7 million; spent $29.8 million
(D) MJ Hegar raised $24 million; spent $17 million
11. Georgia (race 1) total: $53 million
(R) Sen. David Perdue raised $21 million; spent $15 million
(D) Jon Ossoff raised $32 million; spent $28 million
12. Georgia (special election) total: $49.7 million
(R) Sen. Kelly Loeffler raised $28 million*; spent $22 million
(D)Raphael Warnock raised $21.7 million; spent $16 million
*Loeffler took out a $20 million loan to herself
13. Alabama total: $33 million
(D) Sen. Doug Jones raised $26 million; spent $24 million
(R) Tommy Tuberville raised $7 million; spent $5.9 million
Source: Center for Responsive Politics.
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