North Dakota’s U.S. House candidates have filed their final campaign finance disclosure forms for the cycle. You can read Republican incumbent Kevin Cramer’s report here, and Democrat challenger George Sinner’s report here.
The spin from Democrats, who are desperate for a talking point to knock those ugly poll numbers out of the headlines, will be that Sinner has out-raised Cramer for the third straight reporting period. And that’s certainly true – this period Sinner raised over $386,000 to Cramer’s $346,000 – though I’m not sure anyone could argue that the incumbent has felt much pressure to raise a lot of money.
And Cramer has still raised far more than Sinner in the cycle. The incumbent has rased over $1.3 million to date to Sinner’s just over $770,000.
Cramer has also spent a lot more than Sinner, too. Surprisingly more, in fact. So far the incumbent has spent $1.01 million to Sinner’s $586,000. In terms of cash on hand, as of the end of the reporting period on September 30th Cramer had over $443,000 while Sinner was down to just over $192,000.
Comparing this cycle to last cycle, Sinner is behind in all categories where Democrat Pam Gulleson was in 2012, while Cramer has raised more, spent more, and has more in cash on hand than he did at this point in 2012.
We’re down to the point in the election cycle where money spent matters a lot more than money raised. With eight ballot measures sucking up advertising time, media folks tell me this is a more expensive media market in North Dakota than the 2012 cycle when the Heitkamp/Berg race was one of the hottest in the country.
Campaign money raised but not spent accomplishes very little.
Which is something else that’s missing from this election cycle. In 2012, when Democrats were shouting from the rooftops (rightly, it turns out) that Heitkamp could beat Berg, the national partisan interests were pouring money into North Dakota. Heitkamp, specifically, benefitted greatly from millions in spending from the Democrat Senatorial Campaign Committee and sources like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s PAC.
Sinner, meanwhile, is on the campaign trail griping to supporters that he’s getting no help from the national party.
Which speaks volumes.