Rebuilding the “Blue Wall” on a shaky foundation: Fundraising Numbers in MI, PA, and WI

In 2016 the Blue Wall crumbled when Donald Trump won Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. But those who thought these three states were automatic wins overlooked how Republicans had long held levers of power in all three states.

At the state legislative level, Republicans have controlled the state legislature in all three of these states for the better part of the last 25 years. And while Democrats won U.S. Senate and governors races in these states in 2018, all six state legislative chambers remain firmly under GOP control.

In 2018, we didn’t do enough to invest in legislative candidates running in winnable seats in these states. Democrats failed to flip state legislative districts that top-of-the-ticket Democrats won because the state legislative candidates in those districts didn’t have enough money to reach voters. The latest fundraising reports from these three states show that we still haven’t fully learned the lessons of 2018.

Here’s the big picture: in Michigan, our candidates’ strong fundraising can help them pull ahead in the weeks to come, if their momentum continues. We’ll be keeping a close eye on two districts with primaries next week, where candidates will need a post-primary fundraising surge to ensure they can run competitive general election campaigns.

The foundation in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, however, isn’t quite as solid. While some candidates have proven to be strong fundraisers, others who haven’t received the same amount of attention from in-state and national organizations need significant help. And the stakes are too high in 2020 to leave any of these flippable districts on the table.

If you want to make the biggest impact, click the donate button below to donate to the ten candidates we’ve endorsed across these three states who need your support the most. 100% of what you give will go directly to these candidates.

Michigan House

Democrats only need to flip four seats to flip the Michigan House. EveryDistrict has endorsed three Michigan candidates to-date, and we’ll be announcing more endorsements after the primary next week. All three of our candidates posted strong fundraising numbers. Christine Morse is running against a particularly prolific fundraiser, but she’s holding her own.

Pennsylvania Senate

If Democrats can flip four Pennsylvania Senate seats they can tie the chamber, which would effectively give Democrats a majority since the Democratic Lieutenant Governor would cast the tie-breaking vote. EveryDistrict has endorsed all four candidates in the top flip opportunities. All four of them faced competitive primaries, which caused them all to spend money early. Pennsylvania Senate races are some of the most expensive in the country; each of these candidates will need to raise at least $1 million, if not much more, to make these races competitive. Each of our candidates needs significant investment to reach their fundraising goals.

Pennsylvania House

Fundraising reports in the Pennsylvania House are more mixed. Some candidates, especially those running against non-incumbents, are doing well in the money race. Others need a boost. Democrats need to flip nine districts to flip the Pennsylvania House; EveryDistrict has endorsed ten candidates running in red-to-blue flip districts.

Wisconsin Assembly

Of these three states, the Wisconsin Assembly is the chamber that will be toughest for Democrats to flip. The Wisconsin Assembly is one of the most pernicious GOP gerrymanders in the country, and Democrats struggled to make much progress in 2018. That being said, there was one candidate in 2018 who did beat the gerrymander: U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin. And with presidential turnout and a lack of leadership from the GOP-controlled state legislature on the COVID-19 crisis, we think Assembly Democrats are in a strong position to flip the chamber this year.

Many campaigns got off to a late start and didn’t announce until the spring, after COVID-19 hit. Given that, and given the lack of national attention on the chamber, many of our candidates still posted strong fundraising numbers. But these candidates need significant additional support to run fully-funded campaigns.

Here’s the bottom line: we haven’t done enough to fully fund enough campaigns to win legislative majorities in these states – yet. None of these districts are easy wins, and all of these candidates need your support. Click here to chip in and make a donation and sign up for the EveryDistrict email list for other opportunities to make a difference for state legislative candidates in flippable districts.

A note about how we calculate cycle fundraising totals: All fundraising numbers contained in this post have been pulled directly from the in-state campaign finance reporting entities. Cash on hand is the amount each candidate has reported having in their bank account as of their latest report. We calculate cycle fundraising totals by adding total fundraising in 2020 and 2019. We also add to that total the final cash on hand amount for the last report in 2018, for incumbents or second-time candidates.