The effort to oust President Donald Trump might be dominating the 2020 race, but vulnerable Democrats in Congress are meanwhile quietly posting significant fundraising hauls -- largely outpacing their Republican rivals.
Rep. Katie Porter, who is defending the seat in California’s 45th district that she flipped blue in 2018, raised twice as much as her top-fundraising Republican rival, while in Iowa’s 3rd district, Democratic freshman Rep. Cindy Axne amassed a haul that was nearly twice as large as her Republican challenger who is seeking to retake his former seat.
New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer and New York Rep. Max Rose -- Democrats included in the party's list of vulnerable incumbents -- each boasted a haul of nearly $1 million.
In 2018, Democrats took back the House majority for the first time in eight years, handing the speaker's gavel to Nancy Pelosi, and they hope to hold on to that majority -- or even increase it -- in the coming election.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has identified 44 congressional districts as vulnerable as part of its 2020 Frontline Democrats program.
Fundraising disclosures filed to the Federal Election Commission in July show that 30 out of 44 Frontline members reporting hauls of more than $500,000. Additionally, so far in 2019 the DCCC has reached a historic high of $61.7 million raised in an off-year election cycle, while the National Republican Congressional Committee raised $17 million less during the same period.
Only two vulnerable House Democrats -- Pennsylvania Reps. Matt Cartwight and Conor Lamb -- raised less than $300,000 in the past three months, and only one Democratic incumbent, California Rep. Gil Cisneros, raised less than the GOP candidate hoping to oust him from his seat after a close run in 2018.
Meanwhile, many GOP incumbents have been out-raised by their Democratic challengers for this cycle, including Texas Reps. Kenny Marchant and Pete Olson and Arizona Rep. David Schweikert.
“Our Frontline Democrats showed us in 2018 that they have what it takes to win in tough seats, and their incredible fundraising totals so far this year show that they’re doing what it takes to win them again,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairwoman Cheri Bustos said in a statement to ABC News.
“Grassroots donors are excited to invest in our historic Majority because they know that not only are House Democrats the only firewall against President Trump’s chaos, but we’re also making progress on the kitchen table issues that everyday Americans care about, things like lowering prescription drug prices, cleaning up Washington’s culture of corruption, and expanding economic opportunity for working families," she said.
Democrats' battleground districts are overwhelmingly held by freshmen. And of the 43 Democrats who flipped GOP-held seats in 2018, 21 were in districts won by President Donald Trump in 2016.
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) says vulnerable Democrats will face major hurdles as they fight to keep seats Trump scored in 2016, saying that these moderate Democrats have shifted far too left to maintain the support of their swing districts.
“Incumbents typically have an advantage in fundraising, so that’s to be expected. But Democrats have a really tough map in front of them. They have 31 districts where they’re going to be defending Democratic seats where President Trump won in 2016 and is likely to win again in 2020,” said Bob Salera, the National Republican Congressional Committee’s deputy communications director. “So whatever fundraising advantage they have is going to be severely blunted by the fact that they have to defend voting records that are far outside the mainstream in their districts.”
Republicans, led by Trump, have tried to make the party's most liberal members such as New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar the face of the party, and to cast them as socialists.
But Democrats counter that the numbers speak for themselves.
Illinois Rep. Lauren Underwood and Michigan Rep. Haley Stevens, who are among the freshmen who won in districts carried by Trump two years earlier, each posted a second quarter haul of over $700,000.