Democrats Outspend Republicans $119 Million to $79 Million

After months of media reporting on the Republican advantage in outside spending, NYT reports that Democrats retain a sizable advantage at the campaign level.

From the NYT‘s Now They Tell Us Department, “Democrats Retain Edge in Spending on Campaigns.”

Lost in all of the attention paid to the heavy spending by Republican-oriented independent groups in this year’s midterm elections is that Democratic candidates have generally wielded a significant head-to-head financial advantage over their Republican opponents in individual competitive races.

Even with a recent surge in fund-raising for Republican candidates, Democratic candidates have outraised their opponents over all by more than 30 percent in the 109 House races The New York Times has identified as in play. And Democratic candidates have significantly outspent their Republican counterparts over the last few months in those contests, $119 million to $79 million.

Republican-leaning third-party groups, however, many of them financed by large, unrestricted donations that are not publicly disclosed, have swarmed into the breach, pouring more than $60 million into competitive races since July, about 80 percent more than the Democratic-leaning groups have reported spending.

As a result, the battle for control of the House has been increasingly shaping up as a test of whether a Democratic fund-raising edge, powered by the advantages of incumbency but accumulated in the smaller increments allowed by campaign finance law, can withstand the continuing deluge of spending by groups able to operate outside those limits, according to an analysis of political spending by The Times.

Shouldn’t this fact have been part of the reporting all along?  Surely, the fact that the much ballyhooed outside expenditures are partly compensating for a major deficit in campaign level spending be mentioned during said ballyhooing?

Granted, the primary responsibility for such framing rests with the parties and candidates, who should push back against unfavorable coverage that leaves out important facts.   But the press is not living up to its obligation to put reporting in its proper context.

FILED UNDER: 2010 Election, Media, US Politics, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Alex Knapp says:


    Umm…. this is hardly news. I’ve been following the funding gap story for over a year now. It’s not just candidates, but the DNC has raised a lot more money than the RNC.

  2. john personna says:

    Wait a sec, did this piece give us the total, candidates + aligned groups, for the two parties?

    The section you quote doesn’t seem to support your headline. Not if you care about the net-net.

  3. john personna says:

    (Counting money in his left pocket, James has more money than John’s left pocket. There are some reports that John has money in his right pocket exceeding this. “James has more money than John, film at 11”)

  4. James Joyner says:

    @Alex and John: I agree that the total of party spending, candidate spending, and aligned interest group spending is the right number. My point here is that all the reporting in recent weeks has focused only on the last of these, giving a distorted picture of the reality.

  5. Alex Knapp says:


    Don’t misunderstand me. What I mean to say is that this particular issue — that Democratic candidates are outspending their opponents — has been reported on though the whole election cycle. It certainly wasn’t news to me when you posted this morning.

    A quick Google search shows that this has been reported on since the summer.

  6. mantis says:

    My point here is that all the reporting in recent weeks has focused only on the last of these, giving a distorted picture of the reality.

    How does reporting on one aspect of election spending give a distorted picture of reality, exactly? Were news reporters claiming that outside spending is all that there is? Were there claims that candidate and party spending were equal? Who distorted it, and how?

    The focus on outside spending has happened for obvious reasons. That’s the part of the game that changed recently. And there have been plenty of articles about how much more of the money for Republicans has come from outside groups, taking away from their internal fundraising and spending. Again, because that’s what’s news.

  7. Jason says:

    I don’t see the story at all. I see a GOP victory INSPITE of huge Democrat fundraising and spending advantages.

    There’s your trouble.