Dozens of Republican House members have raised less money than their Democratic challengers so far this year — and GOP insiders say their congressional majority is at risk.
A Politico analysis found 43 House Republicans have been outraised by Democratic rivals in the first three months of this year, nearly the same number seen at the end of last year, and 16 GOP incumbents have less cash on hand than their challengers.
“The members who are getting outraised at this stage of the election cycle are the ones who present the biggest risk to the Republican majority,” said GOP consultant Ken Spain. “Fundraising is an outgrowth of intensity, so I think this tells you that Republicans are clearly swimming upstream in a challenging election cycle.”
President Donald Trump’s unpopularity and intense Democratic enthusiasm have made many Republicans vulnerable — and the most at risk are Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jason Lewis (R-MN) and Rod Blum (R-IA).
“Key decisions are being made right now on where money will be spent this cycle, and I’d be pretty worried if I were one of these members,” said one top GOP strategist. “Some people just can’t be saved.”
The situation resembles the months ahead of the 2010 midterms, when 35 Democratic incumbents were outraised by Republican challengers — and the GOP picked up 63 House seats during President Barack Obama’s first term.
The Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan, announced plans to $38 million on TV ads in 20 districts this fall, but so far they’re passing over incumbents like Rohrbacher who have already fallen behind in fundraising.
Many Republicans had hoped tax reform would goose their fundraising this quarter, but so far that hasn’t happened.
“It was as an excuse for [last quarter], but that only worked then, and now we’re running out of excuses,” said GOP pollster Glen Bolger.