The 2020 election in Georgia is not over yet. Not by a long shot. The two primary runoffs in Georgia could define whether Republicans keep control of the Senate, or Democrats take over Congress entirely. The implications are drawing a lot of outside money to the Peach State, in what’s being called the most expensive race of its kind ever. Scott Thuman follows the money.
Election Day may be in the rearview mirror for most Americans, but not in Georgia, where every day since is a battle. With two runoff races underway and control of the U.S. senate at stake, it means a river of money is flowing into the Peach State.
Anna Massoglia: We're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars. This is some of the most expensive races in, not just this election cycle, but all of history.
Campaign finance analyst Anna Massoglia is with the center for responsive politics.
And she’s been busy. 9 of the 10 most expensive senate races in American history came in 2020, and Georgia’s runoffs could top them all
Between the four candidates and the big political actions committees on both sides, a staggering $440 million dollars has been spent in the past 6 weeks.
Scott: What does it tell you when you look at these numbers?
Anna: Just how important this race has become nationally, not just to the voters in Georgia, but now political operatives and political figures at the national level have really taken interest.
So, amid that barrage of ads, the national groups, have come up with local names like ‘Peachtree’ or ‘Georgia Honor’, to keep the interest of local voters, who otherwise tune out, outside influence.
Scott (02:34): Is that just a clever way to disguise where all the money's coming from?
Anna (02:38): It gives the appearance and feel of being more of a homegrown operation. Whereas in actuality, it's national party leaders who are orchestrating the effort.
But it's not just the big donors pouring cash into Georgia. millions of individuals are taking part too, and from afar.
92% of giving for republican candidates through the platform ‘Win-Red’, came from out-of-state. Californians donated most, followed by those in Texas, Florida and then Georgia.
And for democrats, using a platform called ‘Actblue,’ 96% of donations originated outside of Georgia, most from California, New York, Washington, Massachusetts, Texas and Florida.
While the candidates spend money promoting themselves, outside groups are busiest tearing down the opposition.
Brendan Glavin is an analyst with the Campaign Finance Institute.
Brendan: “What you see is that the candidates will run ads, they are positive and talk themselves up. And outside groups tend to run more of the opposition, negative what people consider negative ads. So, it's easier for them. It's easier for the outside groups to run opposition ads.
And here’s the thing, it’s hard to say who’s giving all that cash.
Anna: That's the problem is we really don't know when it comes to dark money. We don't know the ultimate source of this funding. We can guess to some extent based on who the other donors that have been disclosed are, but in reality, we really don't know who doesn't want their contributions to these elections to be traced to them
And with the long-lines for early voting with still weeks to go, a sign Georgians feel the weight of the political world on their shoulders.
For Full Measure, I’m Scott Thuman, in Savannah.