The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) raised $7.4 million in March and brought in more than $17.7 million over the first three months of 2012, officials said Thursday.

The first-quarter haul set a new high for the committee as Senate Democrats work to protect their precarious majority in the Senate.

The DSCC entered April with almost $24 million in the bank and no debt, the committee said, and has raised a total of $70 million so far this cycle.

“We have spent the cycle aggressively recruiting great candidates in open and Republican-held seats, our incumbents are building well-funded campaigns, and now donors are more enthusiastic than ever about the likelihood we will keep the majority,” said Guy Cecil, the DSCC’s executive director.

Democrats are defending far more Senate seats than Republicans in 2012, and will need a well-funded apparatus if they are to prevent the GOP from flipping the four seats they need to retake control of the upper chamber (if President Obama wins reelection).

Senate Republicans haven’t yet released their March totals, but in February, the National Republican Senatorial Committee raised almost $5 million and had more than $16 million stored away. The NRSC is also free of debt.