WASHINGTON — The Republicans may have kept their majority in the House of Representatives, but the Democrats had more success when outside money got involved.
The GOP has taken 233 of the 426 House races decided so far, a 54.6 percent majority. However, Democrats won 32 of the 58 races that had over $1 million in outside expenditures from external groups not including the parties’ congressional committees.
Republicans won 60 percent of the races with between $1 and $2 million in outside money, but Democrats took 68 percent of races with more than $3 million in independent expenditures from outside groups other than their own committees.
“I wouldn’t have expected the outside races to produce different results than the nation,” American Enterprise Institute elections expert Henry Olson said. “That suggest to me that either they were targeting fringe races or that the dark money some how had a negative impact.”
The outside groups are comprised of both super PACs and “non-committees,” or groups that haven’t registered as political groups with the FEC but do report independent expenditures. Super PACs, known as independent expenditure only committees, cannot contribute to candidate campaigns or political parties, but may engage in unlimited political spending independently.
Unlike super PACs, non-committees do not typically report donors.
Among the Democratic super PACs that supported House races was the House Majority PAC, which gave $793,213 in the successful Texas 23rd congressional district race and more than $30 million either supporting Democrats or opposing Republicans overall.
The League of Conservation Voters was another liberal super PAC that picked winners, giving more than $200,000 to both the Texas 23rd race and the New York 24th race, which has not been conceded but that Democrats are projected to win.
The League of Conservation Voters also has a non-committee that supports Democrats. It also gave money to the Texas 23rd and New York 24th races — $866,160 and $207,426, respectively.
“There’s not good targeting,” Brookings Institute elections analyst David Damore said. “With the House races, there’s such an advantage for one side. At the end of the day, it’s so saturated in these competitive races, that does one more group jumping in make a difference?”