Estimated donors to Democrats in competitive 2020 Senate races

SEPT. 19

387,000 donors

300,000 donors

SEPT. 18

Ginsburg’s death

0

JAN. 1

OCT. 14

Source: Federal Election Commission

Estimated donors to Democrats in competitive Senate races

SEPT. 19

387,000 donors

300,000 donors

SEPT. 18

Ginsburg’s death

0

JAN. 1

OCT. 14

Source: Federal Election Commission and ActBlue

Estimated donors to Democrats in competitive 2020 Senate races

SEPT. 19

387,000 donors

300,000 donors

SEPT. 18

Ginsburg’s death

0

JAN. 1

OCT. 14

Source: Federal Election Commission

Estimated donors to Democrats in competitive 2020 Senate races

SEPT. 19

387,000 donors

300,000 donors

SEPT. 18

Ginsburg’s death

0

JAN. 1

OCT. 14

Source: Federal Election Commission

Hundred of thousands of donors rushed to back Democratic Senate campaigns after Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, many spreading their donations across several candidates.

Seven times as many people gave to Democratic candidates in competitive races the day after Ginsburg’s death than the day before, according to an analysis of data from the Federal Election Commission. Elevated giving persisted in the following month.

Donations were often small, averaging $17.82 during the rush, compared with $55.08 two days before. The most common donation on the day after Ginsburg’s death was $1.92, suggesting that donors made a single contribution via the Democratic fundraising platform ActBlue to split between candidates. Donors may have hoped that spreading the wealth across multiple candidates, rather than focusing on a single race, would help Democrats take control of the Senate, giving them the power to confirm or vote down future Supreme Court justices.

Just 3 percent of donors gave to six or more candidates the day before Ginsburg’s death. Nearly 40 percent gave to six or more the day after.

More Democratic donors giving to multiple Senate candidates

Percent of donors who gave to:

1 candidate

3 to 5

6 or more

2

100%

For most of 2020, the vast majority of donors gave to just one candidate.

The day after Ginsburg’s death, 65% of donors gave to multiple candidates

0

JAN. 1

OCT. 14

Source: Federal Election Commission

More Democratic donors giving to multiple Senate candidates

Percent of donors who gave to:

1 candidate

2

3 to 5

6 or more

100%

For most of 2020, the vast majority of donors gave to one candidate.

The day after Ginsburg’s death, 65% of donors gave to multiple candidates

0

JAN. 1

OCT. 14

Source: Federal Election Commission

More Democratic donors giving to multiple Senate candidates

1 candidate

3 to 5

6 or more

2

Percent of donors who gave to:

100%

For most of 2020, the vast majority of donors gave to just one candidate.

The day after Ginsburg’s death, 65% of donors gave to multiple candidates

0

JAN. 1

OCT. 14

Source: Federal Election Commission

More Democratic donors giving to multiple Senate candidates

1 candidate

2

3 to 5

6 or more

Percent of donors who gave to:

100%

For most of 2020, the vast majority of donors gave to just one candidate.

The day after Ginsburg’s death, 65% of donors gave to multiple candidates

0

JAN. 1

OCT. 14

Source: Federal Election Commission

The looming battle over the Supreme Court did not inspire a similar increase in donors on the Republican side. Only 16 percent more donors gave to Republican Senate candidates the day after Ginsburg’s death, compared with an over 600 percent increase among Democrats.

An estimated 217,000 donors contributed to South Carolina’s Jaime Harrison on Sept. 19, the day his opponent, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham, announced he would support President Trump’s nominee to replace Ginsburg, reversing previous opposition to an election-year confirmation. Harrison raised a record-breaking $57 million in the third quarter. Democratic candidates in close races had the largest increase in donors, but those in races viewed as long-shot bids or safe bets also saw increases.

Democrats in close races saw greatest increase in donors

Harrison (SC)

Greenfield (IA)

SEPT. 19

200K

0

SEPT. 1

OCT. 14

Gideon (ME)

Cunningham (NC)

200K

0

SEPT. 1

OCT. 14

Source: Federal Election Commission

Democrats in close races saw greatest increase in donors

Greenfield (IA)

Harrison (SC)

SEPT. 19

200K

0

SEPT. 1

OCT. 14

Cunningham (NC)

Gideon (ME)

200K

0

SEPT. 1

OCT. 14

Source: Federal Election Commission

Democrats in close races saw greatest increase in donors

Harrison (SC)

Greenfield (IA)

Gideon (ME)

Cunningham (NC)

SEPT. 19

200K

0

SEPT. 1

OCT. 14

Source: Federal Election Commission

Aug 31

Sep 07

Sep 14

Sep 21

Sep 28

Aug 31

Sep 07

Sep 14

Sep 21

Sep 28

chart_date

Jaime Harrison

The result of increased Democratic enthusiasm is a 2020 Senate race that set fundraising records with a month remaining until Election Day. Challengers Harrison, Amy McGrath in Kentucky and Mark Kelly in Arizona have already surpassed Beto O’Rourke’s massive 2018 fundraising totals. The late flood of Democratic donations helped Harrison double Graham’s third-quarter total, creating a $28 million gap in total receipts.

Democratic Senate candidates exceed record 2018 fundraising

Top five Senate candidates per election by receipts

Harrison (SC)

2020

through

Oct. 14

$109M

McGrath (KY)

$90M

Kelly (AZ)

$90M

Gideon (ME)

$70M

Graham (SC)

$68M

2018

$85M*

Scott (FL)

O’Rourke (TX)

$80M

Cruz (TX)

$46M

McCaskill (MO)

$40M

$39M*

Hugin (NJ)

2016

Toomey (PA)

$32M

Portman (OH)

$26M

Schumer (NY)

$25M

Feingold (WI)

$25M

$25M

Rubio (FL)

2014

$31M

McConnell (KY)

$31M

Franken (MN)

Hagan (NC)

$25M

Udall (CO)

$21M

Landrieu (LA)

$20M

* Self-funded candidates

Source: Federal Election Commission

Democratic Senate candidates exceed record 2018 fundraising

Top five Senate candidates per election, by funds received

Harrison (SC)

2020

through

Oct. 14

$109M

McGrath (KY)

$90M

Kelly (AZ)

$90M

Gideon (ME)

$70M

Graham (SC)

$68M

2018

Scott (FL)

$85M*

O’Rourke (TX)

$80M

Cruz (TX)

$46M

Three 2020 Democrats surpassed O’Rourke in 2018

McCaskill (MO)

$40M

Hugin (NJ)

$39M*

2016

Toomey (PA)

$32M

Portman (OH)

$26M

Schumer (NY)

$25M

Feingold (WI)

$25M

Rubio (FL)

$25M

2014

$31M

McConnell (KY)

Franken (MN)

$31M

Hagan (NC)

$25M

Udall (CO)

$21M

Landrieu (LA)

$20M

* Self-funded candidates

Source: Federal Election Commission

Democratic Senate candidates exceed record 2018 fundraising

Top five Senate candidates per election, by funds received

Jaime Harrison (SC)

2020

through

Oct. 14

$109M

$90M

Amy McGrath (KY)

$90M

Mark Kelly (AZ)

$70M

Sara Gideon (ME)

$68M

Lindsey Graham (SC)

2018

Rick Scott (FL)

$85M*

Beto O’Rourke (TX)

$80M

Ted Cruz (TX)

$46M

Three 2020 Democrats have surpassed Beto O’Rourke in 2018

Claire McCaskill (MO)

$40M

Robert Hugin (NJ)

$39M*

2016

Pat Toomey (PA)

$32M

Rob Portman (OH)

$26M

Chuck Schumer (NY)

$25M

Russ Feingold (WI)

$25M

Marco Rubio (FL)

$25M

2014

Mitch McConnell (KY)

$31M

Al Franken (MN)

$31M

Kay Hagan (NC)

$25M

Mark Udall (CO)

$21M

$20M

Mary Landrieu (LA)

* Self-funded candidates

Source: Federal Election Commission

But donations do not guarantee victory: O’Rourke lost in 2018. It remains to be seen if Democratic candidates can translate the late influx of donor enthusiasm to success, especially in traditionally red states.

About this story

This analysis combined Federal Election Commission filings from each candidate’s principal campaign committee and from the two main online donor platforms: ActBlue for Democrats, and WinRed for Republicans. Unique donor estimates were created based on a combination of donor name and Zip code. States with competitive Senate races according to the Cook Political Report include Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas.