NRSC raised $70M in 2019

By James Arkin

Senate Republicans’ campaign committee raised a record sum of money in 2019 as they seek to protect their majority, according to details shared exclusively with POLITICO.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee raised $70 million last year — including $7 million in December — easily surpassing the previous record for the committee’s fundraising in an off year and nearly doubling the amount they raised in the off year six years ago en route to winning control of the Senate. The previous high for the committee in an off year was $42 million in 2017, and the committee raised a similar sum in every other off year of the last decade.

The massive increase reflects both increased enthusiasm among GOP faithful and a recognition that the party is on defense with the Senate majority in play.

Republicans currently hold a 53-47 majority in the chamber, but they are defending 23 seats to just 12 for Democrats. At least a half-dozen GOP seats are considered battlegrounds, more than the two or three Democratic seats truly in play at this point of the election cycle.

"We're not resting on our laurels. We understand there's a lot of work ahead of us,” Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), the NRSC chairman, said in an interview. “But clearly each of our members is doing their part traveling, being visible in their states, calling up fellow conservatives and asking them to join our team.”

“This Republican-controlled Senate is America's firewall as we try and consolidate all of the important wins that we've had over the last couple years and then look to build on those in the future,” Young added.

Full details, including the amount the committee spent and has in the bank, are not yet available. The deadline to file reports to the Federal Election Commission is Jan. 31.

The committee saw a boost in small-dollar fundraising last year, hauling in $16.2 million in unitemized donations under $200 through Nov. 30. In all of 2017, the committee only raised $8.8 million in unitemized donations, roughly the same as every other off year from the last decade. The number of online donations the committee received last year was double the number from 2017, and the number of mail contributions tripled, according to the committee. A full picture of the small-dollar fundraising will be available once the committee files its December report.

“Being at the helm of the NRSC is no easy task, and the job Sen. Young has done is nothing short of remarkable,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement. “The fundraising success the committee had in the off year will go a long way in helping us stop socialism and hold our Senate majority in 2020.”

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, meanwhile, raised $55.6 million through November of last year, according to its most recent filing, and will likely be close to parity with their GOP counterparts once their December fundraising report has been filed. The DSCC raised $54 million in 2017 and $62 million in 2015, and will likely have raised a similar amount last year once their filings are complete. The DSCC has often had a fundraising advantage over the NRSC in previous cycles, including a significant edge in small-dollar donations.

The committees' fundraising is just a piece of the entire financial landscape in the battle for the Senate. Campaigns on both sides are likely to be well-funded, though incumbents in most races will have hefty cash on hand advantages over their challengers. In the third quarter of last year, several Democratic challengers, including in Arizona, Iowa, Maine and Kentucky, outraised GOP incumbents, though it’s unclear which party was more successful on the whole in the fourth quarter.

Both parties are also bolstered by well-heeled outside groups — Senate Leadership Fund on the Republican side, and the pro-Democratic Senate Majority PAC — that are required to report their fundraising totals every six months.