October 21, 2021

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Would a Trump loss hurt the Democrats’ future fundraising ability?

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“The fundraising numbers that we’re seeing from Democrats are the new reality,” said Josh Holmes, a former chief of staff to McConnell and president of the firm Cavalry LLC. Although Democrats’ anxiety about Trump “increases” the party’s giving, Holmes said, it’s not a short-term trend tied to the president.

“The Republican donor class has been incredibly engaged,” he noted. The party’s super PACs have broken their own records, but those outside groups pay more for TV advertising than candidates do. 

“Democrats have a culture within their activist class, not the donor class, that every time they are upset, they’ll give $5 to five different candidates,” Holmes said. “Every time a Republican is upset, they’ll write a five-paragraph essay on Facebook.”

Outraised, outspent

Every GOP senator in a competitive race this cycle brought in less money than their challengers in the third quarter, according to a CQ Roll Call analysis of fundraising reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. The average Democratic challenger raked in $23.1 million from July through September — more than twice the $10.4 million average for their incumbent Republican opponents. Democrat Jaime Harrison, who is challenging Graham in South Carolina, shattered quarterly fundraising records by hauling in almost $58 million during that period.

Female donors, many repelled by Trump, represent 44 percent of all 2020 contributors, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics. That is a jump from the pre-Trump era when women lagged further behind men, representing 33 percent of donors in the 2012 cycle. 

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