Midterms in 2018 become most expensive in history

Getty Images
The 2018 midterm elections have already cost more than $5 billion, smashing previous records to make this year the most expensive non-presidential contest in American history.
And there are still three weeks to go.
All told, candidates and outside groups trying to win seats in the House and Senate had raised $3.96 billion by the end of last month, according to Federal Election Commission data analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics.
{mosads} At the state level, the tab for top races adds more than a billion dollars to the total.
Candidates running for seats in the House of Representatives have already raised more than $1.26 billion, the Center for Responsive Politics report found.
Democrats have pulled in more money, $714 million, than their Republican rivals, who have raised $542 million.
In the fight for the U.S. Senate, the two parties’ candidates had raised $800 million. Democrats had outraised Republicans by about $100 million, the filings show.
That money does not include the hundreds of millions poured into television, mail and phone advertising from outside groups. 
The Republican-backing Congressional Leadership Fund has spent more than $90 million on independent expenditures. Three other groups — the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Senate Majority PAC and the Senate Leadership Fund — have all spent more than $50 million.
Seventeen groups have spent at least $10 million on advertising so far this year. Another 73 have spent between $1 million and $10 million, according to running tallies from Political Moneyline. And 146 other groups have spent between $100,000 and $1 million on independent expenditures.
At the state level, candidates running for governor have raised more than $664 million so far this cycle, according to campaign finance reports.
The two groups that spend the most on governor’s races have raised at least another $250 million; the Republican Governors Association said this week it had raised $156 million so far this cycle, and the Democratic Governors Association tagged on $100 million of its own.
That number is likely low, as several states do not require gubernatorial candidates to file updated reports until later this week. 
Corporations and interest groups have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into ballot measures that cover everything from redistricting to Medicaid expansion to environmental rules on salmon habitat in Alaska.
Ballotpedia, the independent elections database, has tallied nearly $650 million in contributions to campaigns that support or oppose ballot measures up for a vote this year. 
Those supporters and opponents have dumped more than a quarter billion dollars into measures on California’s ballot alone. One measure that would put limits on the revenue kidney dialysis clinics can take in has generated $118 million by itself.
Several races have already set new spending records
The fight for a Senate seat in Florida between Sen. Bill Nelson (D) and Gov. Rick Scott (R) is already the most expensive Senate contest in American history.
The two candidates have raised a combined $79 million. Add in the $43 million spent by outside groups and the race has cost $113 million — and Scott and Nelson have a combined $10 million left in the bank for the final three weeks.
Senate races in Missouri, Arizona, Indiana and Wisconsin have already cost more than $50 million each, and Nevada is likely to break that mark this week.
Expensive primary fights have driven some of the highest-priced races for House seats.
Multi-party battles to replace retiring Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) have already cost more than $20 million each, while Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Democratic businessman Harley Rouda and outside groups have combined to spend more than $18 million.
The most expensive race outside California is in New York, where Rep. John Faso (R) is seeking another term. An expensive Democratic primary and an equally expensive general election sprint has cost more than $19 million so far.
The most expensive race of the entire cycle remains a special election in Georgia’s 6th District, where Rep. Karen Handel (R) beat well-funded Democrat Jon Ossoff. The two candidates spent $44 million, and outside groups added in nearly $31 million more in that contest.
Of all the money spent on 36 governor’s races this year, nearly a quarter of the two-thirds of a billion dollars spent has come in a single state, Illinois.
There, billionaire hotel magnate J.B. Pritzker (D) has poured more than $100 million into his own campaign. Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) has raised $82 million in his uphill bid for a second term, much of it out of his own pocket.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) reported raising more than $57 million for his re-election bid. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has raised nearly $50 million, while Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) reported pulling in more than $26 million.
California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), the odds-on favorite to win the governorship next year, has raised $21 million.
Republican candidates in Massachusetts, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida have all raised more than $10 million.
Democrats in Colorado, Georgia, Connecticut and Florida have all crossed into the eight-figure range, according to the latest available campaign finance numbers. 
Midterm election spending has risen precipitously in recent years. The Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks only federal elections, said the 2014 midterms cost about $3.67 billion, slightly higher than the 2010 midterms.
By contrast, the 2002 midterm elections were the first to cross the $2 billion threshold.
Tags Bill Nelson Dana Rohrabacher Darrell Issa Ed Royce John Faso Karen Handel
See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video