Why Democratic Senate candidates shouldn’t get *too* excited about their big money advantage

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The examples are legion.

In the Pennsylvania Senate race, Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman raised nearly $11 million in the second quarter, as compared to just $5.5 million for Republican celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz. (And more than half of Oz’s total, $3.2 million, came from a personal loan.)

In the Ohio Senate race, Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan brought in $9 million over the past three months — roughly nine times what Republican nominee J.D. Vance raised over that same period.

And two of the Democrats’ most vulnerable incumbents — Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock and Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly — posted massive quarters, raising $17.2 million and $13.6 million, respectively.

But recent history suggests that Democrats should be wary of viewing their fundraising victories as precursors to actual victories in November.

They need only remember what happened in the 2020 election.

In that cycle, there were several Democratic candidates who absolutely blew the doors off in terms of fundraising:

* In South Carolina, Democrat Jaime Harrison spent more than $130 million, drastically outspending GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham.

* In Maine, Democrat Sara Gideon spent more than $60 million — roughly double what Republican Sen. Susan Collins did.

* In Kentucky, Democrat Amy McGrath spent more than $90 million, dwarfing the $65 million Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell expended.

And yet, the Republican incumbents in all three races won easily. McConnell cruised by 20 points, Graham triumphed by 10 points, and Collins won by 9 points.

To be sure, this is not an exactly apples-to-apples comparison. South Carolina and Kentucky are significantly more Republican-friendly — particularly at the federal level — than, say, Arizona or Pennsylvania.

And you would still always rather be the candidate with more money to spend on a race than the one with less.

But those 2020 results do suggest that money is not determinative in Senate elections — especially if your opponent is also raising and spending tens of millions of dollars.

With the exception of a few of the largest and most expensive states, such as Florida, Texas and California, there may well be a point of diminishing returns when it comes to campaign cash in Senate races.

The Point: Democrats should rightly celebrate the fundraising prowess of their Senate candidates. What they shouldn’t do is think that big fundraising leads ensure victory.