… because GOP fundraising is down from 2016.
In today’s Election Update, 538’s Nate Silver reports on disparities in fundraising in the 2018 cycle compared to that in the 2016 cycle. The good news is that the Dems are hauling in far more than the GOP in House races. Let’s say that again. In run-of-the-mill House races, Dems are better funded than Republicans. Wow! Yippee kai yai! Holy Moly, Batman. No sh!t! Here are the numbers.
It would be one thing if Democrats were raising money only in a few high-profile races — say, for example, in Beto O’Rourke’s Senate race in Texas. But that’s precisely not what is happening. Instead, the Democrats’ fundraising advantage is widespread. They’re raising money almost everywhere they need it in the House, whereas Republicans are sometimes coming up short.
Until recently, it was rare for House candidates to raise $2 million for their races — but it’s become more common in recent years as fundraising has gone digital and candidates have learned how to make highly tailored online appeals. There was a huge jump in the number of $2-million-plus candidates in both parties between 2014 and 2016, for example. But while Democrats’ numbers have held steady or improved from the high levels they had in 2016, Republican numbers have collapsed. The 17 GOP candidates that project to raise at least $2 million this year is down from 64 in 2016. (All figures are adjusted for inflation.)
Silver reports that the same pattern holds for candidates at lesser funding levels. Those Democrats raising $1 million or more increased by 2 from 2016 to 2018 but those Republicans in this category dropped by a whopping 87. Similarly, those Democrats raising $500 thousand or more increased by 20 but Republicans in this category decreased by 70.
The result is a fundraising disparity of the likes we’ve never seen before — at least not in recent years. (Our data on House fundraising goes back to 1998.) In the average House district, the Democratic candidate has raised 64 percent of the money, or almost two-thirds. Likewise, the Democrat has raised an average of 65 percent of the money in districts rated as competitive by the Cook Political Report. In all previous years in our database, no party had averaged more than 56 percent of the money in these competitive districts.
The fundraising numbers are so good for Democrats — and so bad for Republicans — that it’s a little bit hard to know quite what to make of them. … [But] If Democrats beat their projections on Nov. 6 — say, they win 63 House seats, equalling the number that Republicans won in 2010, an unlikely-but-not-impossible scenario — we may look back on these fundraising numbers as the canary in the coal mine.