House Republicans in swing districts kept up with or surpassed House Democrats in fundraising in the second quarter — a sign that 2022 could be a competitive and expensive year for both as they fight for control of Congress in the midterm elections.
Republicans need just seven more seats — five if the currently vacant seats are held by the party — to flip the House to GOP control.
Of the 22 House Republicans targeted by the Democrat House campaign arm, as well as those that flipped seats in 2020, members raised an average of $551,923 from April to June and have an average of $751,734 in cash on hand.
Two of these lawmakers, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania's 1st District and Young Kim of California's 39th District, raised more than a million in the quarter. Ten brought in more than $750,000.
Republican donors seem energized by the potential for the GOP to take back the House, former NRCC communications director Matt Gorman observed.
"They are so close now. They can taste it. That's something that can't be denied," he said. "This is where the fight is, there's no presidential [election]. People are going to be really engaged."
The National Republican Congressional Committee raised $20.1 million in June and $45.5 million overall in the second fundraising quarter. They outpaced the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which raised $36.5 million in the second quarter.
But House Democrats in targeted seats still have an advantage in cash on hand.
The 32 members on the DCCC's "Frontline" list of vulnerable districts raised an average of $653,105.88 in the quarter, and averaged $1.46 million in the bank. This excludes numbers from Katie Porter of California, who raised $2.7 million in the second quarter and has a massive $12.8 million war chest.
When including the other districts on the NRCC's target list of more than 50 seats, the average raised this quarter is closer to $585,000.
Republicans welcomed the solid fundraising by GOP incumbents in swing districts, who despite their, trailed House Democrats in fundraising. Republicans were outraised in 21 of the 25 most competitive House races in 2020, according to Gorman.
But money isn't everything. Among the 13 House Democrats who lost their seats in 2020, 11 raised far more than their GOP opponents. Seven brought in at least a million more than their opponents over the course of the general election, with the largest gap in a New York race. Democrat Max Rose lost, despite the $5.8-million advantage he had over Republican Nicole Malliotakis.
The Congressional Leadership Fund, a PAC backed by House Republican leadership, pushed cash-strapped candidates in 2020 over the finish line by helping fund field operations and advertise on TV. They wrote in a memo about the 2022 midterm elections that "the single biggest threat to Republicans taking back the Majority is insufficient candidate fundraising."
Gorman, now a vice president at Targeted Victory, said Republicans' long-term investment in individual donor online fundraising has been a major factor in candidates' improved numbers.
"Online fundraising takes time to invest in. It doesn't happen overnight," he told CBS News. "I also think that we have issues on our side to talk about. We've got Biden, we've got inflation. That really does make a big difference."
Of the 19 House members who raised more than $1 million this quarter, 12 were Republicans. This includes House leadership members, who are usually fundraising powerhouses for the party, as well as some freshmen and other members that have been in the spotlight such as Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Matt Gaetz of Florida.
House Democrats in 2022 are looking to run on President Biden's agenda and are targeting Republicans who voted against the American Rescue Plan and other measures backed by the administration.
"Our strong fundraising success shows American voters are rejecting Republican extremism and know just how critical a Democratic House Majority is to protecting our democracy and delivering for American families," DCCC Chair Sean Patrick Maloney said in a statement.
And Mr. Biden is already making trips to try to make that message resonate with voters. He has visited the districts of at least three vulnerable Democrats so far: Elaine Luria in Virginia's 2nd District, Lauren Underwood in Illinois' 14th and Ron Kind in Wisconsin's 3rd.
Luria and Underwood raised more than $750,000 each, while Kind raised $408,000 and lagged one Republican challenger, Derrick Van Orden, who raised $753,000. But Kind still has a cash-on-hand advantage of more than $751,000. U.S. Trade Ambassador Katherine Tai followed up on Mr. Biden's visit to Kind on Friday, less than three weeks after the president's visit.