U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Beto O’Rourke talks to supporters during a campaign rally at Harvest Run Park November 2, 2018 in Carrollton, Texas. 
U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Beto O’Rourke talks to supporters during a campaign rally at Harvest Run Park November 2, 2018 in Carrollton, Texas.  - 
Listen To The Story
Marketplace

Many congressional candidates are headed into the final stretch before the midterms with a record amount of cash on hand

In the last days before an election, “you want to be at your maximum spend level to reach the voters who may just be tuning in at the last minute,” said Republican strategist Chris Jankowski.

Although, in this race, it’s been hard to tune out. Tim Duggins, a pastor in central Virginia, said he’s received phone calls at home and been bombarded with TV ads. “It just feels like every commercial break or every pause,” he said.

But candidates have to be careful with their final spending choices, said Molly Allen, a Democratic consultant and fundraiser.

"They don't want to be left with any money on the table because ... if they end up losing, they’ve got money in the bank," she said. “What else could they spend it on in order to turn out the vote?”

At the same time, said Allen, candidates don’t want to take on debt and win by a big margin — or worse, take on debt and lose.

“So, it's all a gamble that the campaign manager and the consultants and the candidate all have to make together and understand the risk they're taking,” she said.

Republican strategist Jankowski has seen many campaigns miss the mark over the years. Some candidates, especially a few GOP incumbents, are under-spending this cycle, he said.

“You're going to see some surprise upsets,” Jankowski said. “They're probably not spending enough money right now, but they don't know it, and they won't know it until around 9 o'clock on election night.”

Cassius Adair assisted with the reporting of this story.

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.

Follow Kimberly Adams at @KA_Marketplace