More than $16 billion is projected to be spent in total on the midterm elections, a new report by the nonpartisan OpenSecrets found.
That figure includes $8.9 billion to federal candidates and political committees, and $7.8 billion to state-level candidates, committees and ballot measures.
Spending at the federal level has already broken the previous record for a midterm year — $7.1 billion when adjusted for inflation — and state-level spending is on track to surpass the $6.6 billion (adjusted for inflation) spent in 2018.
However, OpenSecrets’ $8.9 billion estimate is slightly lower than their previous estimate of $9. 3 billion due to a “slightly quieter pre-general fundraising period,” Sarah Bryner, OpenSecrets’ director of research and strategy, told reporters on Thursday.
“Given the candidates are relying more and more on small donors, who are likely to be more sensitive to inflation pressures than billionaires or millionaires, candidates may see donors backing away as they have to make the choice between paying for gasoline and donating $25 to a candidate,” Bryner said. “Over time, candidates have relied more heavily on small donors. For this cycle, candidates have taken 24% of their money from small donors, up from 18% in 2018.”
According to OpenSecrets, Democrats have out-fundraised Republicans but Republicans have out-spent Democrats as they push to win majority control of the House and Senate.
The top five most expensive congressional races this cycle are all Senate races rated as competitive by the Cook Political Report: Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Outside spending has also poured into competitive races, with more than $1.9 billion being spent in expenditures not coordinated with candidates or campaigns through the end of October. The single biggest outside spender this cycle is the Mitch McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund, which has spent over $205 million this cycle, followed by the Republican House leadership-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund, which has spent more than $188 million.