Campaigns

Targeted House members boost fundraising, as Democrats’ dominance continues

On average, targeted Democrats raised $100,000 more than targeted GOP members

California Rep. Katie Porter raised the most of any Democratic lawmaker whom Republicans are targeting in 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Targeted House members in both parties generally improved their second-quarter fundraising compared to the same period two years ago, but Democrats continued to outpace their Republican counterparts as they worked to protect their majority.

The fundraising reports, which cover the three-month period of April through June and were filed on Monday, will likely quiet questions about whether the wave of cash that bolstered Team Blue in the midterms would return for Democratic lawmakers facing tough reelections in 2020. 

On average, the 54 House Democrats whom Republicans are targeting for defeat raised nearly $100,000 more than the 30 targeted GOP lawmakers in the chamber. Democrats also had an average of nearly $180,000 more in their campaign coffers at June 30 than targeted Republicans.

“I’m an athlete, and my coaches always taught me that you win in the off-season,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos said. “It’s clear we’ve taken that advice to heart, and we’re leaving nothing on the table.”

Republicans charged with winning back the House aren’t fretting — at least not publicly — and they were quick to note that some of their most vulnerable incumbents had impressive quarters.

“The massive outpouring of support from grassroots conservatives proves Republicans are fired up to once again sweep the socialist agenda into the dustbin of history,” National Republican Campaign Committee spokesman Bob Salera said.

2017 vs. 2019

A comparison of the second quarter of 2019 and the same quarter in 2017 shows that incumbents lawmakers are improving their fundraising numbers. Democrats, in particular, are utilizing the fundraising lists they built last cycle, and the DCCC is encouraging lawmakers to invest early in growing their online lists even more.

Not all of the 54 Democrats on the NRCC’s target list who are running for reelection in 2020 had launched their campaigns at this point in 2017. The 28 who had filed with the FEC at the same point last cycle raised an average of $241,000 more this quarter than two years ago. 

California Rep. Katie Porter made the biggest improvement. She raked in more than $1 million this past quarter, the most of any targeted Democrat, compared with nearly $312,000 at the same point in 2017. Porter, whose pointed questioning of top financial and Cabinet officials has garnered national media attention, flipped a longtime GOP seat in Orange County that Hillary Clinton won by 5 points. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates her reelection Likely Democratic.

House GOP incumbents on the DCCC’s target list also generally boosted their fundraising this quarter compared to the same point in 2017, but not as much as their Democratic counterparts. On average, the 27 Republican lawmakers raised an additional $160,000 this past quarter over the same quarter in 2017.

California Rep. Devin Nunes, the top fundraiser of the targeted Republicans, had the greatest increase by nearly quadrupling his haul from two years ago. He raised more than $1.8 million over the last three months, compared with $480,000 during the same period in 2017.

Nunes, the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, built a national profile as a strident ally to President Donald Trump. Any Democrat faces an uphill climb against him, given that the president carried his Central California district by 9 points in 2016. Inside Elections rates his race Solid Republican.

While members of both parties saw their fundraising generally increase this year compared to the same quarter in 2017, it’s a different story when it comes to the money left in their campaign accounts. 

Democrats, on average, saw a $589,000 increase in their cash on hand at June 30 this year versus at the same time in 2017. Republicans, however, saw their cash on hand decrease, on average, by $48,000 from two years ago. 

Big numbers persist 

The eye-popping second-quarter numbers posted by targeted Democratic incumbents, particularly the freshman members, comes on the heels of the DCCC’s prioritizing of online fundraising. The committee has once again put digital directors on each of its regional teams and dispatched candidate fundraising advisers to districts across the country. 

Meanwhile, the NRCC is hoping a new online fundraising platform, WinRed, will bolster GOP donations online by allowing donors to contribute to Trump as well as House and Senate candidates through one platform.

But so far, it’s the Democrats who’re dominating the fundraising game. On average, the 54 Democrats on the NRCC’s target list raised $531,000 in the second quarter. Half of them raised more than the average , with 11 incumbents raising more than $700,000. 

Seventeen Democratic incumbent also ended the quarter with more than $1 million in their campaign accounts. New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer, whose moderate stances have drawn the ire of party progressives, had the most cash with nearly $5.7 million in the bank.

On the Republican side, the 30 targeted Republicans running for reelection raised an average of $433,000 in the second quarter, with 11 incumbents surpassing that average. Two sitting Republicans raised more than $700,000, while four had more than $1 million on hand at the end of the quarter. Nunes was the top Republican in terms of cash on hand, with $5.6 million in his campaign account on June 30.

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