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Most Democrats in 2016 Trump districts outraising GOP challengers

Week in review: Joe Biden adjusts strategy

Thirty House Democrats are facing reelection in districts President Trump won in 2016, and while incumbents have a built-in advantage when it comes to fundraising, talk of impeachment has raised the stakes. 

Incumbent House Democrats in Trump districts raised a total of more than $14.3 million in direct contributions in the third quarter, which just ended in September, compared to the $6.08 million raised by their Republican challengers. 

Of the Democrats in Trump districts, 28 have surpassed Republican challengers, while two are looking at races in which GOP challengers have the upper hand in terms of combined cash raised in the most recent quarter. 

This comes as more Democrats at the end of September came out in favor of an impeachment inquiry after a whistleblower complaint alleged President Trump solicited foreign interference in the 2020 election. 

In September, seven freshman Democrats with national security backgrounds penned an op-ed in the Washington Post calling for an investigation. Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry the next day. 

Democrats in favor of impeachment and outraising GOP challengers

Of those seven Democrats, four represent districts that President Trump won in 2016, and have among the highest amounts raised in the quarter. Democrats Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, and Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey have raised a combined $2.29 million dollars in the third quarter alone. 

Slotkin won Michigan's Eighth District by four points after President Trump won it by seven points. In the third quarter, she raised more than $686,100 for her re-election bid. While she faces two GOP challengers, both filed in early October and neither reported cash raised for the quarter.

Over in New Jersey, Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill won the Eleventh District by almost 15 points after Trump won it in 2016 by just one point. She raised nearly $669,000 in the third quarter. While two challengers have jumped in the race, they raised just $650 combined by the end of the quarter. 

Congresswoman Lucy McBath of Georgia raised over $623,000 in the quarter and has $1.34 million cash on hand after winning the Sixth District seat by just one point in 2018. President Trump won it by 1.5 points two years earlier. None of her four challengers were able to raise more than half of what she raised in the third quarter.

In all, Democrats in Trump-won districts that have voiced support for the impeachment inquiry have together raised a combined total of around $11 million in direct contributions to their campaigns. 

Democrats walking a fine line on impeachment and outraising GOP challengers

Alternatively, a different set of six House Democrats in Trump districts have either opposed the impeachment inquiry or advocated for continuing investigations that are not an inquiry. All of them have outraised their GOP challengers in total thus far. 

In Maine's second district, President Donald Trump won in 2016 by ten points. Democrat Jared Golden was then able to flip the district in 2018 by just two and a half points. Now, Golden has raised $382,000 raised in the quarter with $793,860 cash on hand. His closest challenger, Republican Eric Brakey, was not too far behind Golden, with $337,740 raised but he does not have the same war chest at his disposal.

In Oklahoma, Kendra Horn successfully flipped the Fifth District seat held by Republicans since 1975, after President Trump won the district by thirteen points. She raised nearly $510,000 in the third quarter and is sitting on a nearly $2 million war chest. Four of her Republican opponents together raised less than $300,000 in the third quarter; three other challengers have not reported fundraising totals.   

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump might have won Minnesota's Seventh District by 30 points in 2016, but Democratic Congressman Collin Peterson has represented it since 1991. Peterson raised nearly $159,100 in the third quarter while his three Republican challengers combined brought in just shy of $150,000. Republican Michelle Fischbach was able to raise more than $100,000 within 27 days of filing and recently was endorsed by House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. 

Democrats being outraised in third quarter

While the majority of Democrats representing Trump-won districts outraised their Republican challengers combined in the third quarter, it's not the case in every district.

Congressman Joe Cunningham won South Carolina's First District by 1 point after Trump won it by 13 in 2016. He raised nearly $490,000, compared to his five Republican opponents' combined $536,675 in the third quarter. That said, Cunningham still has them beat overall with $1.3 million cash on hand.

In New Mexico, President Trump won the Second District by ten points before a Democrat was able to win in 2018 by two points. Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small raised $557,191 in the third quarter, while her three Republican opponents combined raised nearly $654,233. Like Cunningham, Torres Small has more cash on hand with $1.7 million to their $1 million combined war chest closing September.

Committee Help

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which helps elects and retain House Democrats, raised $27.4 million from the months of July through September, which is about $6 million more than what the committee had in the third quarter of 2017, and leaves the Democratic campaign arm with a more than $36 million dollar war chest. 

By comparison, the National Republican Campaign Committee brought in $15.8 million from July through September. The NRCC has leaned on the impeachment inquiry to criticize these Democrats in Trump districts, who are all on their 2020 target list to win back the House. Republicans will need at least 19 seats to do this. 

NRCC spokesman Michael McAdams said Democrats "will need every penny to try and explain their unhealthy obsession with impeaching Trump." When asked about if he expects Republican challengers to catch up in fundraising as the election cycle continues, McAdams said "We will see."

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article misstated the margins of victory for Representatives Mikie Sherrill and Joe Cunningham.  

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