Democrats are seeing an early fundraising edge in several key 2024 races, with third-quarter figures giving President Biden a boost over his Republican rivals and giving vulnerable Senate Democrats the advantage in closely watched contests just more than a year out from next November’s Election Day.
“The good news for Democrats is that, even in what looks like it’s going be a close election, they are holding their own or exceeding the totals, sometimes by pretty big numbers, and putting some pretty big points on the board up there against their Republican rivals,” said Democratic strategist Jon Reinish.
Former President Trump, who is the front-runner of the GOP presidential race, outraised his Republican competitors, though his numbers slightly trailed Biden’s in the third quarter.
Biden’s principal campaign committee took in $24.8 million from July through September, ahead of Trump’s $24.5 million, according to the latest filings from the Federal Election Committee (FEC).
Together with his joint fundraising committee and the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Biden’s campaign announced a total haul of more than $71 million during the quarter.
“Everybody has to raise a lot of money. It’s how you spend it and where you spend it,” said Democratic strategist Kristen Hawn. “The president has a lot of support, he’s very strong going into this cycle. Trump has a lot of baggage he’s going to have to make up for.”
Hawn pointed to Trump’s ongoing legal battles, which include multiple criminal indictments, and noted he’s at the disadvantage of having to spend money on legal fees.
Democratic incumbents also outraised Republican challengers in several key Senate races.
In Ohio, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown pulled in $5.8 million, beating out his Republican rivals’ hauls and ending September with more than $11 million cash on hand.
In Montana, Democratic Sen. Jon Tester announced he’d raised more than $5 million for his reelection campaign, substantially outpacing Republican Tim Sheehy’s roughly $2.8 million and ending with $13 million cash on hand.
“Luckily for a lot of these Democrats, what’s eating up money on the Republican side are very acerbic, very competitive primaries among the Republican field,” Reinish said.
Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who doesn’t have a main GOP challenger yet, raised $3.1 million in the third quarter. Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, who’s been challenged by Republican Dave McCormick, reported raising $3.2 million, which his team said was more than in any quarter of his 2018 reelection bid.
These six races are rated as “toss up” or “lean Democrat” by the political handicapper Cook Political Report. In Michigan, where incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) is not seeking reelection, Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin brought in around $3 million for the race rated as “lean Democratic.”
Overall, Senate Democrats face a tough election map next year as it tries to hold onto its slim 51-49 control of the upper chamber.
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) spokesperson Tommy Garcia told The Hill that Senate Democratic candidates’ “formidable fundraising” during the third quarter shows voters and donors “recognize the stakes of this election” as the 2024 race heats up.
He said the fundraising wins show the Democrats are “laying the groundwork” for 2024 victories — though strategists stress the party is up against a difficult map next year.
In West Virginia and Arizona Senate contests — both rated as “toss up” by Cook Political Report and considered among the most likely Senate seats to flip in 2024 — the incumbents haven’t yet said whether they’ll run for reelection.
The Mountain State’s Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin raised around $715,000 in the third quarter, a step down from the $1.2 million he raised in the second quarter — but he’s still outpacing Republican Gov. Jim Justice and Republican Rep. Alex Mooney in both funds raised and cash on hand.
Notably, GOP candidates preferred by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) in West Virginia and Montana — Justice and Sheehy, respectively — did better than other Republican hopefuls in those states.
Democrat-turned-independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema raised around $826,000 in the Grand Canyon State’s Senate race, less than Democrat Rep. Ruben Gallego’s $3.1 million haul — though she still boasts roughly double Gallego’s cash on hand. Republicans Mark Lamb and Kari Lake are both in the running, setting the race up for a complicated three-way contest if Sinema does try for reelection.
Reinish said Sinema’s numbers in Arizona “don’t seem very encouraging,” but noted the unique landscape of a possible contest between the independent incumbent and nominees from the two main parties.
It’s not just incumbents outpacing their challengers — Democratic candidates also brought in more cash against some Republican senators up for reelection next year, according to receipts from the July-September window.
In Texas, Sen. Ted Cruz (R) raised $3.1 million for his reelection bid from July through September, according to the filings. Democratic Rep. Colin Allred, who’s trying to jump from the House to the upper chamber, brought in $4.7 million.
Allred also had more cash on hand at the end of the quarter, with $7.9 million to Cruz’s $5.8 million.
In Florida, Republican Sen. Rick Scott raised roughly $1.6 million in the third quarter for his reelection bid — but Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a former House member, edged Scott out with $1.7 million. Scott, though, boasts more cash on hand.
Republicans appeared to have the advantage in competitive House contests as they look to maintain their hold on the lower chamber next year.
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) announced a “record-shattering” fundraising haul, with $18.5 million raised in the third quarter.
At the same time, the Democrats’ House campaign arm announced it pulled in $26 million in the third quarter, besting the NRCC by $7.5 million.
“They’re certainly being incredibly competitive, and by all accounts keeping up with Republicans in certain races,” Reinish said of Democrats in House contests.
Strategists note it’s early in the 2024 cycle to make predictions about Election Day performance based on the latest figures, but they said the numbers can indicate which candidates and races are gearing up to be the most competitive next year.
Democrats could do to be cautious about big hauls at this point in the race, some suggested, given that impressive numbers could spur competitors to get more aggressive or give candidates a false sense of security.
But overall, Democrats appear “in a very good position from a fundraising perspective,” said strategist Hank Sheinkopf.
“This is the Democratic moment to raise money,” said Sheinkopf.
He pointed to the chaos in the House as Republican lawmakers scramble to elect a Speaker — and to lessening economic woes at home while Biden appears on the world stage.
“If they can’t raise the money now under these conditions, when are they going to raise the money?” he said of Democrats.
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