By Alexander Bolton and Jeffrey Young
New campaign-finance records show that key challengers are surpassing or matching the fundraising of incumbents this year in competitive races around the country, a sign of the gathering strength of an anti-incumbent wind that doesn’t necessarily distinguish between Republicans and Democrats.
Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) raised less money than two opponents during the first three months of this year and barely outraised a third.
In Missouri, Sen. Jim Talent (R) has raised more money this election cycle and has more saved than his Democratic opponent, Claire McCaskill. But McCaskill has raised the same amount in total contributions ($1.22 million) collected this year (see chart).
“Almost two-thirds of Americans think the country is heading in the wrong direction. When you have that type of situation, incumbents are in danger,” said Darrell West, a professor of political science at Brown University, in Chafee’s home state.
In most cases, incumbents maintain a serious advantage in cash on hand, but the first-quarter results could be a sign of things to come.