Hundreds of millions of dollars invested in Democratic Senate campaigns this year ignited on Tuesday as some of the party’s most heavily funded challengers proved insufficient.
In South Carolina, Democrat Jaime Harrison fell to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham when he broke just about all Senate fundraising records with his $ 109 million. Kentucky State Senator Amy McGrath posted almost as impressive fundraising figures, grossing around $ 90 million, but failed to overthrow Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. And in Iowa, Theresa Greenfield failed to topple Sen. Joni Ernst despite a $ 47 million war chest. In Texas, Democratic challenger MJ Hegar, who raised nearly $ 25 million, was easily defeated by incumbent Senator John Cornyn.
Democrats stunned political watchers with unprecedented fundraising figures this year, spurred by huge grassroots financial support in the midst of an election year that the party hoped would be a blue wave. But as results poured in on Tuesday night, with Democratic candidate Joe Biden falling short of expectations, a number of lower ballot Democrats also succumbed to a Republican who was showing himself much stronger than most end-of-cycle polls. had suggested.
For Harrison and McGrath in particular, the losses represented a historic waste of an enormous amount of democratic resources. Harrison alone had raised more money in a single electoral cycle than any senator from either party, with the sole exception of McConnell, had ever raised in his entire career. These funds spurred what Democrats hoped would be a seismic shift in the map of the United States Senate, a victory in a historically Republican-dominated state and the defeat of a Senator (Graham) who has become one of the strongest allies. close to President Donald Trump in Congress – and who recently led Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett through her successful confirmation process.
But the election was called for Graham around 10 p.m. Tuesday night. Half an hour later, as comebacks showed Graham leading by about 12 points, Harrison called Graham to concede.
Despite raising almost as impressive sums, McGrath did even worse. At around 11 p.m. Tuesday, she followed McConnell by more than 20 points, with 95% of the state’s ridings reporting. His gain of $ 90 million was complemented by huge outside spending from Democratic groups determined to remove the face of the GOP from the Senate. According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, super PACs and other independent groups lost $ 23 million attacking McConnell and backing McGrath.
The Democrats in the race have even adopted more unorthodox tactics in an attempt to topple McConnell. A major pro-McGrath super PAC spent $ 1.5 million late in the race to boost the Kentucky Libertarian Senate candidate.
Some of the party’s most vulnerable incumbents, who have also enjoyed substantial support from Democratic donors, have also missed. In Alabama, Democratic Sen. Doug Jones raised about $ 26 million, far surpassing Republican challenger Tommy Tuberville, but failed to retain his seat in the Deep Red State.
Few expected Jones to win in re-election, his first since his upset 2017 victory over former Alabama Supreme Court justice Roy Moore. But the substantial sums given to his campaign and spent on his behalf eclipsed the roughly $ 8 million Tuberville raised for his race. Jones was nevertheless easily defeated; with about 63% of the vote Tuesday night, Tuberville led by more than 25 points.
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