Texas Democrats Outraise Republicans In House Races. It Doesn’t Guarantee They’ll Win.

Having more money makes it easier to recruit good candidates. But in Texas, Democrats also need high voter turnout.

By Jill Ament & Rhonda FanningAugust 3, 2020 11:46 am

Democrats running for Congress in Texas are raking in some of the biggest fundraising hauls in years compared to their Republican opponents, according to new campaign finance analysis from The Texas Tribune. The survey found that Texas Democrats have a $7.5 million advantage over Republicans in House races. But how much will the extra cash really matter for Democrats come November?

Kevin Banda is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Texas Tech University. Some of his work focuses on political campaigning. He told Texas Standard host David Brown that though the numbers are unusual, 2020 is expected to be a difficult year for Republican candidates overall, and that probably accounts for Democrats’ success attracting funds. 

“Most of what goes on in elections in terms of determining outcomes is structure,” Banda said. “And right now, that structure is that the economy is bad [and] people are upset at the incumbent Republican president. And what that means is that people are likely to punish the Republican Party.”

But money spent on campaigns often doesn’t translate to winning elections. Banda cited billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who “spent a ‘jillion’ dollars” of his own money on a failed campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination earlier this year. 

Banda said the ability for parties and candidates to raise lots of money is an indicator that they face weak opponents. 

“When the challenger has a lot of money on hand, that’s a bad sign for the incumbent, even though the incumbent is still more likely to win,” Banda said.

If presumed Democratic nominee for president, Joe Biden, wins the presidency, or if the race is close, Banda said Texas Democrats will be looking for political coattails to help elect state legislators and other officials.

“There’s an incentive there to recruit the best candidates possible, and to convince donors to contribute as much as possible,” he said. 

One wrinkle for Democrats, though, is Texas’ historically low voter turnout. Banda said it’s likely Democratic voters who are less likely to go to the polls.

Web story by Shelly Brisbin.

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