Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Spending for the 2020 election will likely reach about $11 billion, representing a more than 50% increase over the cost of the 2016 election, a Washington, D.C.-based research group said Thursday.
The Center for Responsive Politics said the 2020 election is already the most expensive in U.S. history, with federal committees spending more than $7.2 billion so far. The non-partisan, non-profit group said that number will "dramatically" increase in mid-October when congressional candidates report their third-quarter spending figures.
All told, the CRP said the 2020 election will likely cost $10.8 billion.
"The 2018 election smashed fundraising records for midterms, and 2020 is going to absolutely crush anything we've ever seen -- or imagined -- before" said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. "This is already the most expensive presidential election in history and there are still months of election spending to account for. The unanswered question is whether this will be the new normal for future elections."
This year will be the first time election spending has broken the 11-digit mark. In 2016, spending was $6.5 billion, 2012 was $6.3 billion and 2008 was $5.3 billion.
The CRP described 2020 as "no ordinary election" and said that while the coronavirus pandemic has interrupted certain aspects of campaigns, it hasn't slowed down donations.
"The one-two punch of a pandemic and economic recession does not create an ideal environment for political fundraising," said Sarah Bryner, CRP research director. "But donors across the political spectrum are motivated enough right now that they've more than stepped up, and small donors are an increasingly significant portion of the donor pool."
The presidential race alone is expected to hit $5.2 billion, with more money going toward media buys than travel and events in previous elections.
So far, Democrats are outspending Republicans with 53.69% of total spending compared to the GOP's 38.96%. The Democrats' spending is boosted in part by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's "unprecedented" $1 billion campaign.
Congressional races are expected to cost about $5.6 billion, a 37% increase over the 2016 elections. In the House, Democrats have raised $534 million to Republicans' $424 million, and in the Senate, Democrats raised $331 million and Republicans raised $280 million.
Large individual donations make up the biggest chunk of fundraising this year with 38.58%. The rest is made up of small individual donations (22.24%), self-funding (17.71%), other funding (12.82%), PACs (5.04%) and organizations (3.62%).