The 2020 election cycle resulted in eye-popping numbers when it came to fundraising and campaign contributions for Senate races, to the tune of over $1 billion. Considering that the Democratic Party has long criticized the infusion of money into political campaigns after the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC, it was ironic that the party spent over a half billion dollars to net one Senate seat.
According to Federal Election Commission filings as reported by Fox Business, the Democratic Party’s Senate candidates raised $626 million in fourteen Senate races, which almost doubled the Republican Party’s fundraising amount of $386 million.
Here is a breakdown of the fundraising totals for the fourteen competitive Senate races, by state:
- Arizona: Democrat Mark Kelly raised $90 million while incumbent GOP Sen. Martha McSally raised $57 million
- Colorado: Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper fundraised $39 million and incumbent GOP Sen. Cory Gardner raised $26 million.
- Georgia: Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue raised a combined $49 million while Democratic opponents Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff raised a combined $53 million.
- Iowa: Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield fundraised $47 million while incumbent Joni Ernst raised $23 million
- Kansas: In an open seat election, GOP congressman Roger Marshall raised $6 million while Democratic opponent Barbara Bollier raised $24 million
- Kentucky: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell raised $57 million while Democratic challenger Amy McGrath raised $90 million
- Maine: Democratic challenger Sarah Gideon raised $70 million while incumbent GOP Sen. Susan Collins raised $24 million
- Michigan: Incumbent Democrat Sen. Gary Peters raised $43 million to try to fend off an upset bid by Republican opponent John James, who raised $37 million
- Minnesota: Tina Smith, the Democrat incumbent, raised $14 million while GOP challenger Jason Lewis raised $5 million
- Montana: Former Democrat Gov. Steve Bullock raised $43 million to try to unseat Republican incumbent Sen. Steve Daines, who fundraised $27 million
- North Carolina: Thom Tillis, the Republican incumbent, fundraised $22 million while his opponent Cal Cunningham raised $47 million
- South Carolina: Incumbent GOP Sen. Lindsay Graham raised $74 million while opponent Jaime Harrison raised $109 million
- Texas: Amid hopes of a ‘blue wave,’ Democrats raised $24 million for challenger Mary Hegar to try to unseat incumbent GOP Sen. John Cornyn, who raised $30 million
Democratic Senate challengers, though well-funded, lost their bids to unseat Republicans and hold a majority in the Senate. Here is the breakdown of how the electoral results stacked up:
- Arizona: Kelly beat McSally by 84,000 votes, or 2.5%
- Colorado: Gardner lost to Hickenlooper by 9%, or 283,433 votes
- Georgia: Both elections have shifted to a runoff election in January 2021, because no single candidate won 50% of the total amount necessary to be declared a winner on Election Night
- Iowa: Greenfield lost to Ernst by 6%, or 109,942 votes
- Kansas: Marshall defeated Bollier by 12%, or 158,117 votes
- Kentucky: This was not a close race, since McGrath lost to McConnell by 417,013 votes, or 19%
- Maine: Gideon’s upset bid ended when she lost by 9%, or 72,272 votes
- Michigan: Peters narrowly beat his opponent, John James, by 84,315 votes, or 1.5%
- Minnesota: Smith defeated Lewis by 5%, or under 200,000 votes
- Montana: Daines beat back a challenge by Bullock by 10%, or 60,205 votes
- North Carolina: Cunningham lost to Tillis by 95,745 votes, or 1.7%
- South Carolina: Harrison underperformed and lost by ten percentage points, or 258,248 votes
- Texas: Cornyn handily defeated Hegar by 10%, or over 1 million votes
In total, the Democratic Party had one net gain in the Senate, which was in Arizona. Challenger Mark Kelly defeated incumbent Martha McSally, but as of the publishing date of this article, McSally has not yet conceded, since ballots are still being counted in the Grand Canyon State.
The Democrats did flip another Senate seat in Colorado, where incumbent Cory Gardner lost to former state governor John Hickenlooper, but it did not match the media or grassroots hype that the party would gain a Senate majority. However, the gain in Colorado was negated by the Republicans retaking Alabama’s Senate seat from Doug Jones, who lost to former college football coach Tommy Tuberville by 21%.
The 2020 Senate races illustrated the fact that money in politics does not guarantee election victories. Liberal causes, politicians, and dark money groups will have to reevaluate whether money could replace in-person canvassing and other traditional political practices in the near future.