As the 2022 midterms near their end on Nov. 8, candidates in North Carolina’s congressional races are spending whatever resources they have to get an advantage over their rivals. And according to late-October financial reports, Democrat candidates raised more in the third quarter in every major race. Republicans, alternatively, have spent more in independent expenditures in every race but one.
The five major races that analysts have watched this election season are the U.S. Senate race, NC-1, NC-6, NC-13, and NC-14. In all five of those races, Democrats had the edge in their third-quarter fundraising. The chart below, created by the John Locke Foundation’s Civitas Center for Public Integrity, shows the exact figures.
“Democrats have garnered a significant advantage over Republicans in the Senate race and congressional races that are considered lean and toss-up districts,” said Jim Stirling, research fellow at the Civitas Center for Public Integrity, on third-quarter numbers.
In the Senate race, Democrat Cheri Beasley outraised Republican Ted Budd, $13.4 million to $4.8 million. Budd, however, has a $33 million advantage in IE money being spent on his behalf (though not officially connected to his campaign). The race has been viewed as a tossup, but the latest polls show Budd pulling away with about a 5-point advantage. IE spending as of Oct. 24.
“A fascinating part of these third-quarter reports has been the narrative that Beasley is an underfunded candidate,” Stirling said. “While she does trail Budd in Independent Expenditures (IE’s), she has become the third-highest fundraiser in state history, only behind Cal Cunningham and Roy Cooper in their 2020 election bids. She’s raised nearly $30 million and could potentially beat out Roy Cooper’s $40 million submitted by the end of the election.”
One wrinkle that Stirling said people should be aware of when looking at these numbers is that IE money does not hold the same value when it comes to advertising.
“While Republicans have garnered more money from IE’s, the value of candidate funds and Independent Expenditure committees’ funds are very different,” Stirling said. “IE’s tend to cost around twice as much for TV and radio ads as they would for candidates. Stations are required to give candidates the lowest rate for an advertisement slot, while outside groups do not get that benefit. This fact has kept Beasley comparable in advertisements to Budd in this election.”
In the southern Triangle’s NC-13, Democrat Wiley Nickel outraised Republican Bo Hines, $1.1 million to $864,000. This race is considered the only true toss-up among U.S. House races in North Carolina, but many analysts give Hines a slight edge because of the favorable conditions for Republicans this year. Hines has also benefited from about $2 million more than Nickel in IE.
The one race that’s an exception to both narratives (of Democrats raising much more in campaign funds and the GOP spending more IE) is NC-1 in the northeastern part of the state. There Democrat Don Davis outraised Republican Sandy Smith by a much more narrow $619,000 to $540,000. Davis also has benefited from a massive $3.8 million from outside spending, while Smith has benefited from a little over $31,000. After NC-13, this seat is the next most competitive. Some signs show Smith is within striking distance.
In the Triad’s NC-6, Democrat incumbent Rep. Kathy Manning held a large lead over Republican Christian Castelli with $673,000 to $201,000. Manning has deep pockets, a district that favors Democrats, and the incumbency advantage, but a major red wave could make this seat more competitive.
In the Charlotte area’s NC-14, Democrat state Sen. Jeff Jackson has outraised Republican businessman and veteran Pat Harrigan, $951,000 to $252,000. The district favors Democrats, and Jackson has a large money and name-ID advantage over Harrigan. If a red wave large enough to make NC-6 competitive emerges, NC-14 won’t be far behind.
Neither NC-6 nor NC-14 has seen a big movement of independent spending.