The online fundraising edge that Democrats have enjoyed for years has mushroomed into an overpowering force, with small-dollar donors smashing “donate” buttons over the last three months to process their disgust for President Donald Trump, fury with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and grief for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Propelled by the wave of money, Democrats have suddenly expanded the Senate battlefield to a dozen competitive races, burying long-contested states like Iowa and Maine in TV ads while also overwhelming Republican opponents in states like Alaska, Kansas and South Carolina that are suddenly tightening.
Where most of the top Democratic Senate candidates two years ago raised $4 million to $7 million in the third quarter of 2018, their contenders this year are multiplying those totals. Colorado’s John Hickenlooper raised $22 million, more than six times what his presidential campaign raised before he dropped out of that race in 2019. Iowa’s Theresa Greenfield and North Carolina’s Cal Cunningham each cleared $28 million.
And on Sunday, South Carolina Democrat Jaime Harrison announced a record $57 million third-quarter haul for his race against GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, where the most favorable public polling for Graham in the last month has shown him leading by a single point. Altogether, the money has given Democrats a TV spending edge in 12 of the 13 most expensive Senate races.
“The money is indicative [of] how much energy there is on their side, and the lack thereof on our side,” said Mike DuHaime, a Republican consultant. “I think we’re finding that Trump — the energy for Trump — is not always transferable, the same way it wasn’t transferable for Democrats from Obama.”
GOP operative Corry Bliss, who coined the “green wave” warning about House Republicans getting swamped by Democratic cash in 2018, said of 2020: