House Republicans close financial gap with majority at stake

“Our leaders are setting records. And our members – especially these freshmen – you have these reports of $ 500,000 to $ 1 million that come out just a few years after a big report for Republicans was usually around. $ 250,000, ”said Representative Tom Emmer. (R-Minn.), Chairman of the Republican National Congressional Committee.

The GOP had prolific fundraisers last quarter: Reps Young Kim (R-Calif.) And Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) Both raised $ 1 million. Representatives Nancy Mace (RS.C.), Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) And Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) raised over $ 850,000. All but Fitzpatrick are members of the 2020 freshman class.

Granted, House Democrats still post massive quarterly totals. And the redistribution process makes it more difficult to know which incumbents will need large war treasures. But Republicans see a new wave of financial support in the dead year and, as Democrats realized in 2018, this is often one of the first signs of grassroots enthusiasm and successful momentum. for the majority.

“In 2018, we put a big emphasis on candidate development, candidate money and giving candidates the opportunity to come out and tell their stories,” said Dan Sena, the former executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “It was one of the main reasons we were able to reclaim the House.”

“What should be important for Democratic strategists and Democratic campaigns to come is that it now looks like Republicans are doing the same,” Sena added.

Another sign of the GOP’s momentum: The Republican Congressional National Committee has overtaken the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in fundraising, topping the DCCC by $ 8 million in the first six months of 2021. Stage of the 2020 cycle, House Democrats had overtaken Republicans by more than $ 17. million.

The NRCC attributes this success, in part, to their painstaking and long-term work efforts to build a digital operation.

In interviews, Emmer often remembers a moment in early 2019 when one of the committee’s top digital strategists wrote him a note, urging him to invest heavily in a small fundraiser. This strategist, Lyman Munschauer, predicted that the NRCC would suffer a net loss on this investment 3 to 5 percent after a year before reaping gains.

But the benefits came even faster: the NRCC started making money within a year, and it kept pouring in.

In the second quarter of 2019, NRC raised $ 3.3 million online. During the same period this year, he raised over $ 14.1 million.

“This time we’re even more aggressive,” Emmer said. “Yes, this investment is paying off.”

Meanwhile, WinRed, the GOP’s online fundraising platform created to counter Democrats’ ActBlue, has taken off at a similar pace, grossing $ 2.3 billion since its inception in 2019.

“Your average Democrat running is now all about digital money,” said WinRed Chairman Gerrit Lansing, noting that ActBlue was founded in 2004. “We just need to finish this 15-year cultural shift and the condense in a few cycles. to try to catch up. “

For the GOP, this windfall comes at a crucial time. When corporate PACs announced they would cut their donations after the Jan.6 uprising, there was some concern that would disproportionately impact Republicans, who sometimes rely more on donations.

“We’re all online now,” Lansing said of his party. The change happened years ago, but the “fruits of that work are really paying off now. And it just happens to coincide with this huge cage rattling situation of the PAC companies. So it’s ironic. . “

Perhaps more importantly, WinRed has helped Republicans redirect wealth to new candidates, especially ballots. Of the $ 131 million raised on the platform in the second quarter, nearly 40 percent of that came from new donors to a single campaign.

Some of the party’s most skilled fundraisers are able to push their supporters towards other candidates. For example, Representative Elise Stefanik (RN.Y.), who has raised over $ 1 million each quarter since rising to prominence in Trump’s first impeachment trial, shared 150,000 donors. since the start of the 2020 cycle.

All of this has boosted a leading Republican mentality that has long prevailed in the Democratic political ecosystem, which some GOP members attribute to their current freshman class, which is younger, more tech-savvy, and less accustomed to. in person. fundraising than longer term holders.

“We started building our digital program early on,” said Hinson, who was a TV news anchor at Cedar Rapids before changing seats in 2020. “I love doing digital fundraisers. person directly to the camera. “

Filming ads online has helped her connect with voters and donors, Hinson said. “We use Facebook Ads a lot for our digital fundraiser, and we have great feedback from the comment sections of those ads.”

And like the NRCC, GOP campaigns seem to be getting more comfortable with spending money to do so. Hinson, along with some of the party’s biggest fundraisers like Kim, Steel and Mace, spent well over $ 300,000 in the last quarter – more than is typical a year and a half before the election.

All have made significant investments in fundraising consulting, digital marketing and web advertising, according to their FEC reports.

Still, Democratic incumbents retain a significant cash advantage, especially those like Reps Josh Harder (D-Calif.), Mikie Sherrill (DN.J.) and Antonio Delgado (DN.Y.), who don’t have not faced. particularly competitive re-elections in 2020 and have well over $ 4 million in the bank. Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) Has racked up $ 12.9 million.

And some agents have been privately relieved by the flicks of some highly touted Republican challengers. GOP State Senator Jen Kiggans of Virginia raised just $ 286,000 for her race against Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.). And Navy veteran Tyler Kistner only raised $ 279,000 for his rematch with Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) Although those challengers weren’t launched until mid-April, the two holders have lifted well more than twice as much.

Yet some of the money has also started to flow to the GOP challengers. Republican Derrick Van Orden topped incumbent Ron Kind in Wisconsin by $ 754,000 to $ 409,000.

Over the next few quarters, however, Republicans face an additional hurdle: attracting potential challengers who are dragging their feet, waiting for the delayed redistribution process to begin.

“I hope more candidates will come forward soon and not wait for a new district lines, ”said Dan Conston, president of the Congressional Leadership Fund, a GOP super PAC. “Because this compressed schedule is going to present a big challenge for them for online fundraising and for raising big dollars fundraising. “

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