Democrats shatter fundraising records ahead of Georgia Senate runoffsDecember 25, 2020
Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock shattered fundraising records by hauling in more than $100 million each in the past two months, significantly outraising GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in the final stretch of the two Georgia Senate races that will decide control of the chamber next month.
The massive fundraising for the two Democrats was driven largely by small-dollar donations, continuing the pattern this year of the party’s Senate candidates tapping into online donors across the country to fund their challenger campaigns, although Democrats underperformed expectations in November despite the fundraising edge.
Ossoff became the best-funded Senate candidate in history, hauling in $106.8 million in two months. The Democrat spent $93.5 million from Oct. 15 through Dec. 16, and ended that period with $17.5 million in the bank for the closing weeks of the runoff.
Perdue, his opponent, raised $68 million over the same time period. The Republican spent nearly $58 million and had $16 million in the bank.
Warnock outraised Loeffler by a significant margin as well. The Democrats’ campaign raised $103.4 million and spent $86.1 million. He had $22.8 million in cash in the bank going into the final weeks of the campaign before the twin Jan. 5 elections.
Loeffler raised $64 million, and her fundraising skyrocketed even though she hardly contributed any of her own funds during this period. Loeffler loaned her campaign $23 million for the general election, but only donated $333,200 in the past two months. She spent $48.6 million and ended the period with $21.3 million cash in the bank.
All four of the candidates smashed the $57.9 million that South Carolina Democrat Jamie Harrison raised in the third quarter of the year, in his ultimately failed campaign against GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, which was at the time the best fundraising quarter for any Senate candidate ever.
The fundraising advantage for Democrats has given their candidates a massive advantage in TV advertising. Ossoff has already spent $67 million on TV since the November election, compared to $34 million for Perdue, according to data from AdImpact. Warnock has spent $53 million so far, compared to $36 million for Loeffler. Both Democrats also have more booked for the final two weeks of the race.
But GOP outside groups have a major edge in spending that has blunted the Democratic campaigns’ advantages.
The pair of Senate runoffs are both set to be among the most expensive Senate races in the country’s history, even considering they are just roughly two months long. But, due to a quirk in the campaign finance reporting calendar, the source of the vast majority of outside spending will go undisclosed until well after the election.
Many outside groups, along with both parties’ senatorial committees, won’t have to report their fundraising until the end of January — meaning the source of money they raised from late November through the runoff won’t be disclosed until well after voters have already voted. (They do, however, have to report their spending on independent expenditures, like advertising or field work, shortly after spending.)
Some groups were required to report a fuller picture of their financing, however. Fair Fight, a group founded by former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, brought in $22.3 million from Nov. 24-Dec. 16, including several seven-figure donations from labor groups. Fair Fight redistributed roughly half of that to other liberal groups working on the election.
Georgia United Victory — a Republican group that Jeffrey Sprecher, Loeffler’s husband, previously gave over $10 million to — brought in $2.8 million in that same time period. Sprecher did not donate this time.