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Surprise! Candidates set spending records in 2018 races

It took just north of $2 million to win the average House race last year and $15.7 million to win a Senate seat – but that's nothing compared to the subset of eight victorious new senators, who spent an average of $23.8 million.

Those numbers, which predictably shattered previous records, headline new calculations by the Center for Responsive Politics for the first in a four-part series analyzing money-in-politics trends from the 2018 midterm.

The three biggest spenders all challenged incumbents. Only one of them won: Republican Rick Scott, who spent an all-time record $83.5 million (most of it the record-setting $63.5 million he gave himself) to edge incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson ($33 million spent) in Florida. Outside groups brought total spending on the contest above $209 million, CRP found, "blowing away the previous record-holder."


The second biggest spenders were Democrat Beto O'Rourke, who spent $79 million of other people's money in Texas, and Republican Bob Hugin, who spent $39 million of mostly his own money in New Jersey.

Among House freshmen, the typical Democrat spent more than $4.4 million but the average Republicans' outlay was just $1.6 million – the discrepancy being the result of so many of the new Democrats challenging GOP incumbents in tossup contests while the relatively few GOP newcomers mainly cruised into safe seats.

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