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Tipsheet

Your Midterm Campaign Donations Might Not Have Gone Where You Thought

AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib

In the wake of the 2022 midterms in which Republicans underperformed expectations set by the party's national leaders — with the exception of New York and Florida where candidates like Lee Zeldin, Elise Stefanik, and Ron DeSantis defied the nationwide collapse of the predicted red wave — there are many questions still swirling about what went wrong. 

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As Townhall reported previously, cash raised by former President Donald Trump's Save America PAC went largely toward operating expenses and refilling his campaign coffers rather than midterm candidates fighting to build a red wave. But, according to new analysis from our friends over at Decision Desk HQ, Americans may have thought they were donating to candidates on the ballot this cycle but instead had a majority of their contribution funneled to a different GOP recipient.

As DDHQ's Derek Willis explains, they looked at a collection of more than 200,000 Republican fundraising emails from the midterm cycle that directed recipients to a WinRed — the fundraising platform endorsed and used by the RNC and GOP candidates nationwide — donation page and looked at where donations were directed by candidates or committees (WinRed processes the contributions but does not set the split amounts or other destinations for funds given).

Willis noted that "most WinRed urls don't involve any split of the money at all" and the "vast majority in my collection - all but fewer than 800 URLs mentioned in the emails - are for a single recipient." But of those that did split donations to more than one candidate or fundraising committee, "there are hundreds where the donation split is 90% or greater to one committee and the remainder to another." 

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The committees predominately using such splits included the National Republican Senatorial Committee — led in the last cycle by Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) — with 60 donation landing pages that had 99-1 splits, while the RNC had 24 such email urls. Willis explains further:

The NRSC did 99-1 splits with all of its top Senate hopefuls and also its chair, Florida Republican Rick Scott, along with its House counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee. It actually did at least six separate 99-1 splits with Trump's Save America Joint Fundraising Committee, including this one that features a smiling Scott and Trump against a background of a South Florida barrier island.

Then there was Texas Republican Wesley Hunt's campaign, which Willis noted had "at least a dozen" donation splits "but with a twist: at least ten times the second recipient's default split was 0%." As an example, Willis included one such donation landing page that said donations would go to Hunt's campaign and Senator Tim Scott (R-SC)'s campaign, but the default split had 100 percent going to Hunt and zero going to Scott. 

According to Willis' analysis for DDHQ, Trump didn't do as many splits as the NRSC or RNC, but did have a few. Notably, however, "every [Trump committee fundraising] URL...now redirects to the same location: a current fundraising pitch for his 2024 presidential campaign."

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That means, Willis added, that "on the off chance that someone finds an older email or SMS with a WinRed link, any money given via that page will go to his new campaign committee," or at least 99 percent does, while 1 percent goes to Trump's Save America PAC.

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