A record $5.2 billion will have been spent on this year’s elections.
No campaign spending for a midterm has ever exceeded $4.2 billion after adjusting for inflation — yet the latest reporting period, in mid-October, showed that candidates, political parties, PACs and nonprofits had already torn through $4.7 billion, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which predicted the eventual $5 billion-plus figure.
“The significance of this election is clear. But whether it’s a blue wave or a red wave, one thing is certain: a wave of money [moved] toward Election Day, much of it coming from the wealthiest donors targeting this year’s most competitive races,” said Sheila Krumholz, the CRP’s director.
Voters in hotly contested districts, inundated by campaign pamphlets and robocalls, said they couldn’t wait for Tuesday to be over.
“It’s ridiculous,” Wendy Burke said outside a shopping center in Palmdale, Calif. “I’ve had to block my calls.”
The dramatic increase in spending was driven by a surge in Democratic fundraising, with women playing a huge role. Women donated $308 million to Democrats, compared to $90 million to Republicans.
Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, were the largest donors in 2018, giving about $113 million to Republicans.
Philanthropist Tom Steyer and his wife, Kat Taylor, came in second, giving Democrats $51 million.
The most expensive race in the nation was for a Florida Senate seat in which $160 million was spent either directly by or by supporters of Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and outgoing Gov. Rick Scott, his GOP challenger.
The most expensive House race was in the district just north of Los Angeles, where Democrats battled for a seat held by Republicans since 1992.