If you had to guess which House candidate has raised the most money so far, you might guess that person was a well-heeled incumbent or someone running in a competitive district. After all, incumbents usually have a lot of cash on hand and competitive races tend to attract more money because they are more likely to determine which party wins power.
Yet, among non-incumbent candidates running for the House in 2022, the top fundraiser is a Democrat with no political experience running in a deep-red seat: Democrat Marcus Flowers has raised over $2 million (as of June 30) in his bid to unseat controversial Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, which is a whopping 55 percentage points more Republican than the country as a whole, according to FiveThirtyEight’s partisan lean metric.1
Flowers’s windfall might seem strange given the long odds he — or any Democrat — faces in defeating Greene, but it also reflects a growing trend wherein candidates with little hope of winning still achieve eye-popping fundraising hauls. Based on political science research and an analysis of congressional fundraising, it’s clear that these candidates are the beneficiaries of two larger trends in American politics: a strong antipathy for the opposing party and the ease with which someone can now donate to a campaign on the internet. And together, these forces can help long-shot candidates bring in huge sums — whether they are no-name candidates or well-qualified contenders.