There have been seven special elections in 2017 to fill vacant seats in Congress -- a senate seat in Alabama, and House seats in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Montana, Arizona, Kansas, and South Carolina. While Republicans held on to most of them, they lost a lot of support in all of them -- finishing well behind the percentage that Trump won.
Making matters worse for Republicans is the fact that they spent three times as much money on those races as the Democrats spent.
Here is how NBC News describes the spending:
Major national Republican and Democratic party groups have spent at least $48.5 million on seven special elections since last April, an NBC News analysis of FEC records finds.
The lion's share of that spending — which includes independent and coordinated expenditures for each of the races — came from Republicans, with a total of $37 million spent in total by the Republican National Committee, the NRCC, the NRSC and the two major super PACs affiliated with the House and Senate GOP (the Congressional Leadership Fund and the Senate Leadership Fund) .
Combined, those Republican groups spent over $20 million on two races alone: the Georgia election last June to replace now-former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and the Pennsylvania election to fill GOP Rep. Tim Murphy’s seat after he resigned amid scandal. Republicans narrowly won the former but lost the latter in a major upset when Democrat Conor Lamb prevailed in the GOP-friendly district.
Republicans won the special election in Arizona but dramatically underperformed past from GOP presidential results in the district. GOP party groups invested nearly a million dollars in ads and other expenditures in that race, while national Democratic groups did not get involved.
Democratic Party groups — including the Democratic National Committee, the DCCC, the DSCC and the House Majority PAC — spent only about $11.5 million on independent expenditures and coordinated campaign expenditures in the same seven races. That tally also includes a group called Highway 31, a super PAC largely funded by the campaign arm of Senate Democrats which spent over $4.2 million on Democrat Doug Jones’s victory in the Alabama Senate race.
It’s worth noting that the tallies of these expenditures — which include funding for spending on television and radio ads, mail and phone banking — don’t capture the full amount of party investment in each race, since both parties also support candidates financially in other ways not captured by the FEC records, such as transfers to state parties, polling and field staff.