Where Senate Spending Mattered—And Where It Didn’t

Some Republicans in Trump states won despite being outspent.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., newly-elected to the Senate, leaves a meeting in the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. Blackburn replaces retiring Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
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Zach C. Cohen
Dec. 11, 2018, 9:40 a.m.

Gangbusters fundraising wasn’t always an indicator of success in the midterms, according to FEC disclosures covering the final weeks of the midterm election. But it didn’t hurt.

The biggest spender was Sen.-elect Rick Scott, who self-funded $63.6 million of the $82 million he spent in total to unseat Florida Democrat Bill Nelson. And Sen.-elect Mike Braun of Indiana outspent outgoing Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly with the help of $11.6 million in personal loans.

Democrats Sherrod Brown, Jacky Rosen, Kyrsten Sinema, and Jon Tester shelled out over $20 million each for a seat in the next Senate, easily topping their opponents. But three new senators—Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Josh Hawley of Missouri, and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee—and Sen. Ted Cruz all prevailed despite Democratic fundraising advantages, all in states President Trump carried.

Meanwhile, less competitive contests left self-funders with enough for a refund. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California reimbursed herself $2.8 million and Rep. Jim Renacci paid back nearly all of a $4 million personal loan after losing to Brown.

-- Zach C. Cohen


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