‘Bad News For Republicans’: GOP’s Third Quarter Campaign Fundraising Lags Behind Dems In Key House Races


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Robert Schmad Contributor
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  • Republican campaigns were outraised by Democrats in a number of key House races during the third quarter of 2023.
  • Across the 24 races rated as toss ups by Cook Political Report, Democratic campaigns raised a total of $12,864,513, with Republicans only pulling in $8,941,076.
  • “Most of the current toss-up races in 2024 are defended by Republican incumbents, so ordinarily, I’d expect Republicans to be out-raising Democrats, even in a bad year for Republican incumbents,” an University of Missouri economics professor told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Democrats outraised their Republicans opponents in toss up races during the third quarter as control of the House in 2024 remains uncertain, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation analysis of campaign finance reports.

Across the 24 seats Cook Political Report rated as toss ups, meaning that “either party has a good chance of winning,” Democratic campaigns outraised Republican campaigns in 14 of them between July 1 and Sept. 30. Democrats took in a total of $12,864,513 compared to just $8,941,076 among Republicans contesting the same seats.

“That’s bad news for Republicans,” Jeffery Milyo, a professor of economics at the University of Missouri, told the DCNF. “Most of the current toss-up races in 2024 are defended by Republican incumbents, so ordinarily, I’d expect Republicans to be out-raising Democrats, even in a bad year for Republican incumbents … but if Democratic challengers are outraising Republican incumbents, that is very bad news for the prospects of Republican incumbents in toss-up districts,” he went on.

The DCNF compared incumbents’ campaigns with their top fundraising opponent for its analysis. Individuals running for two seats, a Republican in Pennsylvania’s 8th District and a Democrat in Florida’s 5th District, have yet to file campaign finance reports. (RELATED: Nancy Pelosi Says She’ll Seek Reelection In 2024)

While swing district Democrats beat Republicans in terms of fundraising during the third quarter, the overall cash on hand of campaigns in these districts was about even between the two parties. Across the 24 districts rated as toss ups by Cook, Republicans cumulatively had $22,044,312 in their campaign war chests, with Democratic candidates in those districts collectively holding $22,553,983 in campaign accounts.

Bruce Oppenheimer, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University, suggested that candidates with low fundraising numbers now may be banking on getting large cash injections, either from themselves or national allies, later in the cycle. “If you’re expecting a lot of money to come in later in the campaign … that’s the big unknown, which a campaign has a feel for and [it] affects how much they think they have to raise early on,” he said.

Oppenheimer also suggested that high incumbent fundraising could be a sign that they are worried about challengers.

Milyo pointed out that redistricting could play a role in the upcoming House elections as well, and that some of the Democratic fundraising could be explained by tough primary elections. Oppenheimer echoed these sentiments.

Democrats only need to flip five seats to retake the House next November.

Democrats outraised Republicans representing toss up districts in 5 out of 14 races. Republicans, meanwhile, performed especially poorly in swing districts held by Democrats, only outraising their opponents in 1 such district out of the 9 rated by Cook.

One toss up district, Michigan’s 17th, has no incumbent as its representative, Elissa Slotkin, is running for Senate.

“The specific finding that in some battleground states, Democratic challengers are outraising incumbents but we see no such effect among Republicans could be a very big deal,” Jeremy D. Mayer, associate professor of policy and government at George Mason University told the DCNF. “Donors on the GOP side may also be worried about the unprecedented train wreck of the McCarthy/Scalise/Jordan leadership scrum,” he continued.

Oppenheimer also believed the leadership struggle in the House could be a factor in fundraising, adding that a competitive Republican presidential primary could also be “siphoning” funds away from House races.

Mayer qualified his statements by explaining that fundraising numbers in specific races may be influenced by factors not related to the national environment.

Pat Harrigan, a small business owner and retired Green Beret running in North Carolina’s 14th District, outraised the district’s Democratic incumbent, Rep. Jeff Jackson by more than double. Harrigan brought in $252,765 during the third quarter compared to Jackson’s $116,207 haul.

Third quarter expenditures between parties were also about the same across these districts. Republican campaigns spent $4,001,426 with Democrats spending $4,743,793.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) attends at a news conference with fellow House Republicans at the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2022 in Washington, DC. The news conference focused on critiques of President Joe Bidens first year in office.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“Republican candidates continue to dominate Democrats in the money race and will have all the resources needed to grow the House majority,” National Republican Congressional Committee national press secretary Will Reinert told the DCNF. Reinert cited reporting from Roll Call that showed that Republicans had a cash-on-hand advantage when examining races “rated Toss-up, Tilt, Lean or Likely by Inside Elections.”

“Republicans who represent districts that President Joe Biden won raised, on average, $573,000,” Reinert shared.

The financial gap between candidates in some districts was particularly large.

Adam Frisch, a former city councilman running to unseat Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert in Colorado’s 3rd District, raised $3,388,245 in the third quarter, more than three times what Boebert raised and about double her total cash on hand.

Republican Rep. John Duarte of California’s 13th District, who won his election by just over 500 votes in 2022, enjoys a substantial fundraising advantage in a rematch against his opponent for last cycle, former California state assemblyman Adam Gray. Duarte has $1,236,861 in cash on hand compared to Gray’s $197,228 in funds.

Joe Kent, a retired Green Beret running in Washington’s 3rd District against Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, raised $197,506 through his campaign, according to its third quarter filing.

Kent’s campaign shared a press release with the DCNF claiming he raised $459,189 through the Joe Kent Victory Fund, with a total of $1,075,527 in cash between his campaign and victory fund. Perez maintains an advantage in total funds with $1,607,034 at her disposal.

RealClearPolitics’ polling average has Republicans one point ahead in a generic congressional vote as of writing. RCP’s final average in 2022 had Republicans ahead by 2.5 points in the congressional vote.

None of the campaigns for any of the candidates mentioned above except Kent’s responded to the DCNF’s request for comment. Harrigan could not be reached.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee also did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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