AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott
After lofty predictions of an historic “red wave” in this November’s midterm elections fell woefully short, Democrats and the mainstream media began celebrating the results as a “blue wall” blunting GOP gains. But a critical part of the story of the 2022 election cycle wasn’t about red or blue, but another color – green.
According to new financial disclosures, the Democrat Party outspent the GOP by a staggering amount in key races. With corporate America and the country’s elites now firmly in the grip of left-wing ideology, Democrat candidates enjoy access to vast pools of fundraising wealth, and it showed in this year’s campaigns, as ads for Democrat candidates and dishonest attacks on Republicans blanketed the airwaves. Democrats also benefitted from robust grassroots fundraising efforts – creating a gap that Republicans desperately need to close in order to be competitive in future elections.
A look at a few top Senate races shows just how badly Republicans were outspent by their Democrat opponents. In Arizona, for example, incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly went head-to-head with Republican Blake Masters. Despite the race being a top pickup target for the GOP, Kelly raised $81.8 million to Masters’s $12.3 million – a more than six-to-one ratio. Kelly ultimately won by less than 200,000 votes even with this extreme disparity.
Other GOP candidates in tight races were similarly drastically outspent. In Nevada, Democrat Catherine Cortez-Masto lapped Republican Adam Laxalt nearly four to one. In Pennsylvania, an effort largely led by outside “dark money” groups backed Democrat candidate John Fetterman with $35 million in spending. Republican candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz, meanwhile, only enjoyed $15 million in support. In Georgia, Democrat Raphael Warnock raised an eye-popping $150 million to Republican Herschel Walker’s $58 million.
Even in the few places where Republicans did well, they were often outspent by their Democrat opponents. In Ohio, first-time Republican candidate JD Vance won the seat of the retiring Rob Portman by defeating Democrat Congressman Tim Ryan. Still, Ryan outraised Vance nearly four-to-one, spending $56 million to Vance’s $14 million. In Florida, where incumbent Republican Marco Rubio trounced Democrat challenger Val Demings, Demings raised $79 million to Rubio’s $50 million.
Total spending on the 2022 midterms – which includes party spending as well as outside groups like PACs and SuperPACs – exceeded $16.7 billion, setting a new record for midterm contests. Democrat candidates outspent Republicans by about $100 million, $979,863,287 to $881,034,871. That gap translated to limiting the GOP to a narrow House majority, an expanded Democrat Senate majority, and two Democrat pickups in governor’s races.
Many conservatives are now questioning how Democrats were able to so heavily outraise and outspend Republicans, especially in Senate races, after things looked so promising for the GOP earlier in the year. Moreover, after being outraised and outspent in 2020 as well, an alarming pattern is beginning to emerge for the GOP.
One explanation is the increasing stranglehold that the left has over corporate America. For example, labor unions – which today more often than not reflect the interests of elites rather than rank-and-file workers – sent $51 million to Democrats and just $7 million to Republicans. Well over 90 percent of donations from employees of Big Tech companies went to Democrats, while white-collar industries like the legal field and investment banking also favored Democrats.
Democrats also enjoy the support of several ultra-wealthy donors who fund races at every level of government. George Soros continued his trend of being the largest individual political donor again this cycle, donating some $128 million to Democrats and liberal causes. Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced former head of cryptocurrency company FTX, added another $40 million for Democrat candidates.
As the Republican Party increasingly becomes a party of middle and working-class voters, small-dollar fundraising has become more important, but even here Democrats hold an edge through fundraising platforms like “ActBlue,” which has largely been more successful than the Republican platform “WinRed.”
It may well be that the current period is a transitionary one for the GOP, where the party shifts its fundraising strategy and focus in order to match its new base of support. It’s also worth remembering that fundraising isn’t everything. After all, Hillary Clinton outraised Donald Trump by a factor of more than two-to-one in 2016 and still lost. Candidate quality matters, as does how each fundraising dollar is spent.
But Republicans nonetheless need to come up with some solutions to their fundraising disadvantage – and soon. Democrats already control nearly every key American institution, from Hollywood and big business to the mainstream media. If they command a massive fundraising edge as well, Republicans’ chances of winning any election, no matter how favorable the political environment, are slim at best.
Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with over a decade of experience in DC at the intersection of politics and culture.
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