Where Did All the Money Come From in the Georgia House Race?

Democrat Jon Ossoff raised a lot from small, individual donations, while dark money groups gave about one-fifth of all the money in the race.
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Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff visits a campaign office on June 19th, 2017, in Chamblee, Georgia.

Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff visits a campaign office on June 19th, 2017, in Chamblee, Georgia.

The nation will be watching a runoff election in Georgia tonight, as Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff face off for Secretary of Health Tom Price's vacant House of Representatives seat. The election, which is incredibly close, is considered a harbinger for national political trends. Handel and Ossoff's district, historically Republican, is just the kind that's considered at peril for the GOP in upcoming elections. It's wealthy and well-educated, and President Donald Trump is unpopular among many voters there, as the New York Times reports.

The significance of the race has made it the costliest House contest in history. MapLight, a non-profit group that tracks campaign spending, recently analyzed campaign finance documents to break down where all that money came from. Much of it originated from large, out-of-state organizations. Below, some highlights, current as of June 13th.

Ossoff's campaign has spent seven times as much as Handel's in this race:

  • Ossoff spent $22.5 million.
  • Handel spent $3.2 million.

Ossoff raised much more from individual donors, who each gave $200 or less, than Handel did:

  • Ossof raised $15 million this way.
  • Handel raised $1.6 million.

Meanwhile, outside donors, including conventional party committees and more controversial "dark money" groups, have spent more than twice as much on Handel:

  • Outside sources added $8.2 million to Ossoff's campaign.
  • …and $18.5 million to Handel's.
Republican candidate Karen Handel is surrounded by media after voting at St. Mary's Orthodox Church of Atlanta in the special election for Georgia's 6th Congressional District on June 20th, 2017, in Roswell, Georgia.

Republican candidate Karen Handel is surrounded by media after voting at St. Mary's Orthodox Church of Atlanta in the special election for Georgia's Sixth Congressional District on June 20th, 2017, in Roswell, Georgia.

Who were the top outside spenders, as of June 13th?

  1. The Congressional Leadership Fund, a Super PAC dedicated to maintaining a Republican House majority, put in $7.5 million in support of Handel.
  2. The National Republican Campaign Committee put in $6.7 million for Handel.
  3. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee put in $5.4 million for Ossoff.

Dark money groups, which are controversial because they don't have to reveal their donors, made up about one-fifth of the outside spending in Georgia's Sixth District race. Who were the top spenders among dark money organizations?

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