Record $5.7 billion spent on 2018 elections for Congress

Analysis: It was most expensive midterm ever

Mark Reinstein/Corbis Historical/Getty Images via CNN

US Capitol

Spending in the 2018 elections for Congress topped $5.7 billion, making the battle for control of the House and Senate the most expensive midterm ever, a new tally shows.

Last year's spending by candidates, parties, political action committees and outside groups even shot past the $5.3 billion spent during the then-recording breaking 2008 presidential election, according to the analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political spending.

To put that eye-popping $5.7 billion figure in perspective: That's the amount of money President Donald Trump sought for his border wall in a confrontation with congressional Democrats that partially shut down the government for a record 35 days.

But it's far less than the $20.7 billion that the National Retail Federation predicts Americans will spend next week on the flowers, greeting cards, jewelry, dinners out and other romantic gestures to celebrate Valentine's Day.

Other key takeaways on midterm spending:

  • The blue wave of money was real. In House races alone, Democrats outspent their opponents by $300 million.
  • While a record 793 women ran and raised money in the 2018 congressional races, female donors also contributed to campaigns in record amounts and accounted for $514 million of donations larger than $200 to major party candidates. About three-quarters of the money contributed by women went to Democrats.
  • The Florida US Senate race in which Republican Rick Scott toppled Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson was the most expensive contest of the midterms. Candidates and groups spent $209 million to shape that race, with Scott pouring more than $63 million of his personal fortune into the contest.

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