By: Alexander Burns, Rachel Shorey, and Jugal K. Patel
An army of Democrats giving money over the internet has lifted the party’s House candidates to a strong financial advantage over Republicans in the final weeks of the 2018 midterm election, with Democrats in the most competitive House races outraising their Republican rivals by more than $78 million.
Democratic challengers have outpaced Republican incumbents in large part by drawing in millions of dollars from many thousands of supporters online — a strategy wielded by Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders in presidential elections but never replicated on a massive scale in House races, until now.
Across the 69 most competitive House races, Democrats have raised a total of $46 million from small donors during the 2018 election, compared with just $15 million for their Republican opponents, according to campaign finance data released this week.
A number of Democrats in close races appeared to turn Republican super PAC ads to their advantage in the last quarter, converting Democratic outrage about Republican tactics into campaign donations. Antonio Delgado, an African-American lawyer running for Congress in New York’s Hudson Valley, raised $3.8 million in part by decrying Republican ads blasted him as a “big-city rapper.”
In Virginia, Abigail Spanberger, a former intelligence officer, took in $3.6 million after a Republican group, the Congressional Leadership Fund, was revealed to have obtained a copy of her confidential application for a federal security clearance. The document contained information that the group has since used in attack ads.
Tiffany Muller, president of End Citizens United, a Democratic group that favors strict campaign finance regulations, said Democratic candidates had effectively upended the traditional model of financing congressional campaigns. She said Democrats had marshaled so many small contributions in part through a pointed message attacking corruption and the influence of corporate money in politics.
“This is not just a backlash to Trump,” Ms. Muller said. “This is a fundamental difference in the way we’re funding campaigns.”