Georgia Senate Runoffs Fueled Mostly by Out-of-State Donors

Money from around the U.S. is flooding into Georgia as both of the state’s Senate seats are up for grabs in a Jan. 5 runoff election and with them, control of the U.S. Senate.

Between Nov. 4 and Nov. 23, the Democratic Senate candidates drew 96% of their online donations from out of the state while the two incumbents got 92% of their online contributions outside of Georgia, a Bloomberg analysis found.

Democrat Jon Ossoff raised $55.8 million over that period, while Raphael Warnock hauled in $58.2 million, taking in an average of $3 million a day via ActBlue, the Democrats’ online fundraising platform. The two Republican incumbents raised 92% of their post-election online donations from out of state using WinRed, the party’s tool, with David Perdue taking in $29.1 million and Kelly Loeffler $27.2 million.

Georgia Senate Runoffs Fueled Mostly by Out-of-State Donors

The surge in national interest reflects the races’ high stakes.

If Democrats manage to unseat the two incumbents they will take control of the U.S. Senate and be able to back President-elect Joe Biden’s policy agenda.

But back home in Georgia, both sides raised roughly the same amount, with Democrats raising $4.42 million compared with Republicans’ $4.48 million during weeks after the election.

And having more money does not always help if it comes from outside of a candidate’s home state.

Five Democratic Senate challengers outraised their incumbent Republican opponents by margins of $15 million or more with less than 10% of their money coming from in-state, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. All five lost.

For example, Amy McGrath of Kentucky raised $26 million more than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell but failed to unseat him, as did Jaime Harrison, who outraised South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham by $23.6 million. McGrath raised 97% of the money for her campaign from donors outside of Kentucky, while 95% of Harrison’s cash came from beyond South Carolina’s borders.

In the Georgia race, the two incumbents raised more than their Democratic rivals from Republican areas across Southern states and into Florida, notably Houston and Dallas, while also outraising them in the wealthy enclaves of Palm Beach and Naples, Florida.

Georgia Senate Runoffs Fueled Mostly by Out-of-State Donors

The biggest sources of the post-election bonanza for Ossoff and Warnock came from Democratic strongholds like New York, California’s Bay Area and Seattle.

Inside Georgia, the donations follow a similar pattern.

Warnock and Ossoff won the money race in the core area of Democrat-heavy Atlanta and to its west and south, which tend to be more diverse. But Loeffler and Perdue won big in the northwest suburbs and also captured outlying rural areas – all places with much whiter populations overall.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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