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Expand chart
Data: Federal Election Commission, AP; Note: Spending includes net operating expenditures from primary and general elections. Chart does not include unopposed winners or likely winners in races that have not been officially called as of Nov. 9, 2018. Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

Most of 2018's midterm winners spent more money than their opponents. But some, like Texas senator Ted Cruz and incoming freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, pulled out victories despite being outspent.

Why it matters: Candidates who outspend their opponents usually win. But some political obstacles are so large, even money can't overcome them.

In the Texas Senate race, Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke, propelled by record fundraising for a congressional candidate, reported net expenditures of $55 million as of the final pre-election filing deadline — about twice as much as Cruz reported spending.

In Missouri, incumbency and a 4 to 1 spending advantage were not enough to save outgoing senator Claire McCaskill.

  • McCaskill spent about $32 million against challenger Josh Hawley's $7 million.
  • Yet Hawley benefited from his popularity with rural voters and McCaskill's opposition to the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Hawley won with 52% of the popular vote.

While most of the outspent winners were Republicans — a side effect of Democrats' significant fundraising advantage — 11 Democrats managed to win their races while spending less than their opponents.

  • 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was outspent by outgoing congressman Joe Crowley in New York's 14th district. Yet Ocasio-Cortez beat Crowley and is getting ready to take his House seat in January.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

How Biden might tackle the Iran deal

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Four more years of President Trump would almost certainly kill the Iran nuclear deal — but the election of Joe Biden wouldn’t necessarily save it.

The big picture: Rescuing the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is near the top of Biden's foreign policy priority list. He says he'd re-enter the deal once Iran returns to compliance, and use it as the basis on which to negotiate a broader and longer-lasting deal with Iran.

Kamala Harris, the new left's insider

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images     

Progressive leaders see Sen. Kamala Harris, if she's elected vice president, as their conduit to a post-Biden Democratic Party where the power will be in younger, more diverse and more liberal hands.

  • Why it matters: The party's rising left sees Harris as the best hope for penetrating Joe Biden's older, largely white inner circle.

If Biden wins, Harris will become the first woman, first Black American and first Indian American to serve as a U.S. vice president — and would instantly be seen as the first in line for the presidency should Biden decide against seeking a second term.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day — U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record.
  2. Politics: States beg for Warp Speed billions.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.