Senate 2016: Democrats Have More Debt than Cash

Win McNamee/Getty Images/AFP
Win McNamee/Getty Images/AFP

The DSCC, the campaign arm of the Senate Democrats raised $12.4 million in the 3rd quarter filing period. The amount is about $3 million more than the Republican senators’ campaign committee has raised, but obscures a deep problem for the Democrats going into the 2016 elections.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is struggling with a $13 million debt load.

The 2014 elections didn’t just wipe out the Democrat majority in the Senate. The election saddled the party committee with heavy debt, borrowed to defend its precarious majority in the GOP landslide last year.

The Democrats have little hope of winning back the House, at least until another round of redistricting next decade. With the electoral battlefield tilted against Senate Republicans this year, though, the Democrats have high hopes of clawing back a majority in the upper chamber. Republicans are defending 24 seats next year, several in Presidential battleground states. Democrats are defending just 10 seats, only one or two of which seem competitive at this stage.

The Democrats’ opportunity, though, will carry a heavy price tag, especially in a Presidential election year with very crowded airwaves. The Senate Republican committee hasn’t raised as much money this year as the Democrats. Since January, Senate Republicans have raised $30 million to defend their majority, while the Democrats have raised $34 million.

Both party committees have just over $8 million in the bank ahead of next year’s elections. The Senate Republicans, however, have no campaign debt. The Senate Democrats’ debt, though, at $13 million, is almost 150% of its cash balance.

It would perhaps be fitting that the Senate Democrats’ opportunity to return to control of the Senate would be stymied by too much debt. For an institution that failed to pass a federal budget for most of its tenure in the majority, a sobering primer on the perils of deficit spending is long overdue.