Cash Can’t Fix the Dems’ Problems

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


The Democratic National Committee is pushing a USA Today story this morning, which reports that in toss-up House races, Dems generally have a cash advantage:

In 22 of the 31 House seats rated as tossups by the non-partisan Cook Political Report, vulnerable Democratic candidates had more cash available at the end of June than their GOP rivals, according to a USA TODAY analysis of reports covering activity from April 1 through June 30.

This is pretty weak tea. You can’t run (or win) a House race without raising a bunch of money. Still, fundraising is a necessary but not sufficient prerequisite for winning elections. Steve Singiser had a good post on Daily Kos on Sunday pointing out that in wave elections, incumbents who outraise their challengers often lose anyway:

In the most recent wave election (2006), where the Democrats rode a 30-seat gain into the House majority, a total of twenty-two Republican incumbents tasted electoral defeat. Only three of those Democratic challengers (Joe Sestak, Paul Hodes and Brad Ellsworth) raised more than the incumbents they cast from office. Indeed, only four of the 22 (18%) Democratic winners raised anything close (defined as 85% of the incumbents take) to their Republican incumbents.

The most recent Republican wave election (1994) showed a somewhat similar pattern…In both cases, a significant number of challengers managed to attain victory despite raising 65% or less of the total raised by the incumbents they ejected from office. In the 1994 Republican wave, fifteen of the 34 (44%) GOP victors fell into that category. In the 2006 Democratic wave, ten of the 22 (45%) Democratic victors were outraised to that degree.

Bottom line: Dem incumbents with decent fundraising shouldn’t think that makes them safe. It doesn’t. 

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest