Spending In Georgia Senate Runoffs Could Break Records

(Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Bradley Devlin General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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Georgia voters can anticipate another month and a half of electoral politics as the peach state’s two senate seats are head for two Jan. 5 runoff elections. Democrats and Republicans are expected to shell out millions of dollars on these races that could change the balance of power in Washington, D.C..

Republicans will control at least 50 seats in the senate come January per CNN, but they’ll have to hold one of the two Georgia seats, currently filled by incumbent Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, to remain in control of the senate. Democrats need both seats to make the chamber evenly split 50-50, which would make Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote and Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer the majority leader. If the past is prologue for this election cycle, Democrats can expect to out-fundraise Republicans by large margin. However, that advantage has not always translated to election wins in other key Senate races across the country, and Republican donations are quickly coming in to help Republicans hold their majority.

Republicans were defending seven of nine senate seats identified as tossups by Real Clear Politics, with Perdue’s seat among them. Thus far, Republicans have only lost one seat in Arizona, where Republican Senator Martha McSally was out spent by $30 million by Democratic challenger Mark Kelly, according to opensecrets.org.

Republicans have defended five other seats deemed tossups so far despite massive fundraising gaps in several of these races. In Iowa, incumbent Republican Senator Joni Ernst won by more than six points despite being out raised by almost a 2-1 margin. Her opponent, Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield raised nearly $50 million dollars, per opensecrets.org. In South Carolina, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsay Graham won decisively despite raising about $35 million less than Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison.

The race for North Carolina Republican Senator Thom Tillis’ seat was the most expensive race in history, the Associated Press reported. The Associated Press says the candidates’ campaigns and outside groups spent over $280 million on the race, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Tillis staved off Democrat Cal Cunningham, who more than doubled the amount of money raised by Tillis’ campaign.

Democrats also devoted big money to seats that were more out of reach, such as Democrat Amy McGrath’s bid to unseat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Her campaign raised nearly $90 million, per opensecrets.org.

Georgia’s senate races received relatively little funds compared to these big ticket races. In Democrat’s attempt to unseat Perdue, Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff had about an $11 million fundraising edge. Loeffler, despite having a Republican challenger in Congressman Doug Collins, raised seven million more than Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock.

That said, with so much riding on the outcomes of these January runoffs, money is expected to come flooding in to the candidates over the holiday season. As a matter of fact, it already is.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has joined forces with Perdue and Loeffler’s respective campaigns to raise $32 million dollars over the course of the past week. That total accounts for nearly two thirds of the amount raised by Loeffler’s and Perdue’s campaigns combined before Nov. 3. The effort, which is being carried out by a joint fundraising committee named the Georgia Battleground Fund, also commits staff members of the NRSC team to coordinate the campaign’s efforts, according to NRSC spokesman Jesse Hunt per the Wall Street Journal.

The Wall Street Journal also reports that Perdue has already allocated $16 million in ad buys, based on data from ad tracker Kantar/CMAG. Loeffler’s campaign shelled out $1.8 million on ads this week alone.

Ossoff and Warnock are also spending new cash on advertising as well. The Wall Street Journal says the two have spent $6.6 million on ads in the past two weeks.

Like Perdue and Loeffler, the Democratic candidates are receiving some fundraising help of their own. Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams says Fair Fight Action, a group she created, has already raised $6 million to help Ossoff and Warnock’s election efforts. (RELATED: Stacey Abrams May Finally Have Won The Presidency)

How much money will be raised and spent by the candidates in total before the Jan. 5 runoff is yet to be seen. However, the New York Post reports that spending by the four candidates could exceed $200 million—possibly shattering fundraising and spending records. CNBC reported that a Republican strategist familiar with the campaigns’ plans said Republicans plan to spend at least $100 million in Georgia to hold their senate majority, and expects Democrats will match or exceed that number.