$16.7 billion: Election 2022 will be the most expensive midterm in US history, and it isn't even close

  • Election 2022 will be the most expensive midterm ever, nonpartisan research group OpenSecrets predicts.

  • Federal- and state-level election spending combined will exceed the annual budgets of some US states.

  • At the federal level, the 2022 midterms have already surpassed the cost of the 2018 midterms.

The total cost of state and federal elections in 2022 will exceed $16.7 billion, nonpartisan research organization OpenSecrets projects.

In a report published today, the group notes that spending on federal elections alone has already exceeded the 2018 midterm spending record of $7.1 billion, adjusting for inflation, and is on pace to spend $8.9 billion.

State-level races, which include ballot measure campaigns, could possibly overtake the 2018 midterm election's record spending — adjusting for inflation — of $6.6 billion.

Taken together, the $16.7 billion includes spending by political candidates, party committees, political action committees, super PACs, and other organizations advocating for or against candidates or ballot measures.

For perspective: the states of Iowa, Oklahoma, Nebraska North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Vermont, New Hampshire, Wyoming, Rhode Island, Maine, Delaware, Alaska, Hawaii each have annual state budgets that are around, or in some cases, much less than, $16.7 billion.

The most expensive races in the country are competitive US Senate races in Georgia and Pennsylvania, the results of which could shift the balance of the Senate, and therefore, which party controls Congress' upper chamber. In Georgia, Republican Mehmet Oz is battling Democrat John Fetterman, while in Georgia, Democratic Sen. Rafael Warnock faces a strong challenge from Republican Herschel Walker.

Despite heavy spending in the races, experts from OpenSecrets noted that neither race's spending is poised to overtake the record-setting US Senate race in Georgia from 2020.

Outside spending in Election 2022

At a press conference on Thursday, experts from OpenSecrets also explained that the fundraising patterns this election season were abnormal, especially at the beginning of the cycle.

"We had a really active and aggressive early year in the 2-year cycle," said Sarah Bryner, the director of research and strategy at OpenSecrets.

She further noted that individual campaign contributors led the charge this election cycle.

"This was almost entirely driven by individual donors," Bryner said.

Bryner suggested the increase in donations during the earliest months of the 2021-2022 election cycle was driven by by the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, which she said motivated both Republicans and Democrats to donate to candidates they liked.

While OpenSecrets noticed an increase in individual donors this election cycle, the organization found that traditional political action committees — often sponsored by corporations, unions, and ideological groups — have donated less and less.

During the 2017-2018 election cycle, PACs donated $194 million to candidates. During the 2021-2022 election cycle, they've donated just $152 million, which Bryner attributed to many PACs pausing political donations in 2021 after the January 6 attack — although many later acquiesced and resumed their donations later in the cycle.

As for gubernatorial campaigns, candidates for governor have together already raised $1.7 billion, said Pete Quist, the deputy research director at OpenSecrets. He predicted they'll soon surpass the record of $1.75 billion.

Read the original article on Business Insider