US Senate run-off sparks fundraising frenzy in Georgia

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Big donors and small contributors across the country have been putting their fundraising firepower on two US Senate races in the state of Georgia that could determine upper house control of Congress.

Three weeks before election day, the second-round races are already set to be among the most expensive in Senate history, according to AdImpact, the group officially known as Advertising Analytics.

The two races will pit Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff against Republican incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, respectively, after neither candidate managed to win an outright majority in the November election – the seventh most expensive for a race in the Senate, according to a study. OpenSecrets group.

The amount of money paid into the state simply reflects how high are the stakes for both parties.

If the two Democratic candidates both win, it will give Democrats a 50-50 split with Republicans in the Senate, with Democratic Vice President-elect Kamala Harris serving as a tiebreaker – a victory for the new Biden administration.

But if the Republicans manage to hold one or both seats, it will give the party a narrow majority in the House and give the Senate Majority Leader Mitch mcconnell leverage in negotiations with President-elect Joe Biden’s White House.

The two second-round races are hugely competitive, with voting margins between candidates averaging less than 2 percentage points, according to FiveThirtyEight – well within the margin of sampling error.

Early in-person voting in Georgia begins Monday. While the Democratic campaigns received more small donations, Republicans retained the cash edge among well-funded political action committees – a departure from last month’s general election, when major fundraisers and online donors helped Democrats spend more than Republicans in eight of the nine major races in the Senate

Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock © AP

Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff © ERIK S LESSER / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock

According to documents filed by the Federal Election Commission, the Republican Senate Leadership Fund, a PAC linked to Mr. McConnell, raised $ 104.2 million between October 15 and November 23, including $ 71.1 million on the day. post-election.

Major PAC donors who have given since Nov. 3 include Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone, who has donated $ 15 million, and Kenneth Griffin of Citadel, who has given $ 10 million.

GOP donors Timothy Mellon and Steve Wynn have each donated $ 5 million since November 3, while Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch have each donated $ 1 million. Bernard Marcus of Home Depot and Joe Ricketts of TD Ameritrade also each donated $ 1 million.

In contrast, the majority of Democrats in the PAC Senate raised just under $ 90 million between October 15 and November 23, with the vast majority of them paid before election day, and more than $ 10 million. dollars since.

Among the biggest donors since Nov. 3 are Netflix’s Reed Hastings who donated $ 500,000 to PAC and Carlyle’s William Conway who gave $ 250,000.

However, Democrats have had the benefit of low-level grassroots support since November 3, although online donations to both parties have skyrocketed since the election.

Bar chart showing the flow of money to Democratic and Republican candidates in Georgia's senatorial election since November 3

Between November 4 and November 23, ActBlue – Democrats’ leading online fundraising platform for small dollar contributions – processed nearly $ 112 million in donations to Mr. Ossoff and Mr. Warnock. WinRed, the Republican equivalent, processed $ 55.6 million in online donations to Ms. Loeffler and Mr. Perdue, Federal Election Commission filings showed.

Mr Warnock has received more than $ 57 million in donations channeled through ActBlue since November 3, more than double the total amount he raised in individual donations before election day.

Mr Ossoff’s share stood at nearly $ 55 million, about 1.3 times more than what he had raised from individual donors until November 3.

After funding her initial campaign mostly with a $ 23.3 million loan to herself during the 2020 cycle, Ms Loeffler is raising more from outside sources during the second round.

Between November 4 and November 23, she raised $ 27 million from donors through WinRed, six times the $ 4.2 million she earned from individual donors prior to the November 3 election.

Mr. Perdue has also doubled his fundraising from individual donors since polling day, raising $ 28.5 million between November 4 and 23.

Most of the funding comes from donors outside the state. As of November 4, states other than Georgia have only accounted for a small percentage of overall contributions to WinRed and ActBlue.

Sankey chart showing that most online donations to Georgian Senate candidates come from outside donors

These numbers are incomplete, as the total amounts each candidate has raised since October 14, including other online donations as well as money from other PACs and major donors, will not be released until December 24, when their campaigns will file updated fundraising reports with the FEC. .

But donations from ActBlue and WinRed show the substantial influx of cash to candidates from both parties in recent weeks.

With huge war chests to deploy, the battle is now fought over the air.

So far, campaigns for Mr. Warnock and Mr. Ossoff have spent or earmarked a combined $ 104.8 million on TV and cable TV ads in the nine weeks leading up to the Jan. 5 vote, while the Republican candidates Ms. Loeffler and Mr. Perdue have set aside $ 78.3 million, according to AdImpact.

Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler © REUTERS

Republican Senator David Perdue © AP

Political action committees backing Republican Senate candidates, including the Senate Leadership Fund, have earmarked or spent $ 85.8 million on TV ads, compared to $ 77.4 million for Democratic-backed groups.

In an interview with Fox News, Senate Speaker for Leadership Steven Law touted the new numbers.

“You know, money isn’t everything, but fundraising is one of the first indicators of enthusiasm,” Law said earlier this month.

Dan Eberhart, a Republican donor from Georgia who helped Mr Perdue, was more cautious, noting the deep coffers many losing Democratic Senate candidates had in the November election.

“The facts will not dissuade either side from spending the last dime on Georgia, but what that money will buy is questionable. Maybe they better put some of that money in the bank [2022] halfway through, ”he says.

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