I continue to receive questions about where folks should make electoral donations to have the most impact. I see 2020 as a battle for the White House and the Senate. I think that taking control of the Senate is now within our reach--there are enough seats in play that netting 3 is a real possibility (giving us control if we win the White House). However, to net 3 seats, we need to win at least four of the races as we are extremely likely to lose Doug Jones' seat in Alabama.
I spend a lot of time with The Cook Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball (two of the better political prognosticators with a solid track record of accurately picking the close races) and 538's Senate model and (538's polling data) so you don't have to.
You can just come here, read some stuff and make some donations with confidence that (a) the money is going straight to the campaigns and (b) you are giving pretty efficiently (no donation strategy is ever going to be perfect.
The White House
Bluntly, if you have not yet contributed to the Biden/Harris campaign, this is where you should spend your attention. The Presidency is the race the planet can not afford for us to lose.
If you are approaching (or fear you are approaching) your contribution limit to the Biden/Harris campaign, I have added the Biden Victory Fund--the campaign's joint fundraising vehicle with the Party to provide you a safe option for your donations. Any overflow goes to the DNC (and if you are truly generous, and max out there--$35.5k--the rest goes to state parties starting with the key battlegounds). You'd have to give over $700k to max out to the BVF, and I don't think anyone with those resources is visiting this page. If I'm wrong, by all means give me a ring.
Eleven seats currently held by the GOP are in play to one degree or another: Alaska, Arizona (not listed, see below), Colorado (also not listed, see below), Georgia (two seats, see below), Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Montana, North Carolina, and South Carolina (not listed, see below). We take the Senate if we win four of these seats (and have Kamala Harris as Vice President), because we need to net three and I expect Doug Jones to lose (see below).
The Highest Priority = Iowa
The Cook Report has this as a toss-up while Sabato's Crystal Ball now has this as lean-D (Sabato tends to be more aggressive than Cook); in 538's Senate Model it has been at the top of the list (meaning the closest predicted vote margin) for weeks. If you give money to one Senate race, give it to Theresa Greenfield as she is right on the bubble.
Priority Tier = Maine and North Carolina
The Cook Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball agree that NC is a toss-up; in ME, Sabato sees it leaning-D while Cook has it as another toss-up. 538 has both races in the mid-60s as to the probability of a Democratic win. If you have already given to Iowa and want to give more, consider these two races your next priority as winning them (along with Arizona and Colorado and the White House) will give us control of the Senate. The need is not quite as great as Iowa (both are higher profile and not quite as close), but wins here are absolutely critical to taking control of the Senate. If you can give beyond Iowa, please give here.
Second Tier = Montana and both Georgia races*
Cook has three more races in its toss-up category that Sabato thinks lean Republican: Montana and both the Georgia regular election (Perdue vs. Ossoff) and the Georgia special (Loeffler vs. Collins vs. Warnock). 538 puts the probability of a Democratic win in the very high 20s or low 30s for Montana and the Georgia regular. The Georgia special is now a 53% favorite for the Democrat, but only because head-to-head polling for a January run-off currently favors Warnock. No polling suggests Warnock will win 50%+1 of the votes in November. As polling right now for a January run-off is not very solid and we can all donate to a run-off after the November elections, these both stay Second Tier. I used to have South Carolina in this Tier, but pulled it as I explain below.
These races are definitely worth an investment. We have a good shot at winning any one of the three in the end (although I honestly have no clue which one), so funding all is valuable. Winning one of these would be insurance on the more difficult task of netting 3 seats out those with better "odds."
Third Tier = Alaska and Kansas
Cook and Sabato both the Kansas and Alaska races as lean-R. Both of these races are the 20-25 probability range for a win according to 538. In other words, these are the long shots that, if the wave is big enough, could go our way. These races are not a bad place to spend money, but you should make the donation without expectations.
What about Arizona, Colorado and South Carolina?
In Arizona, Kelly (a) has a commanding money advantage, (b) a commanding polling advantage, (c) the national GOP Senate efforts seem to have largely abandoned McSally (in favor of other tighter races), and (d) while this is a state in which Trump is spending campaign dollars, Trump has higher priorities (FL, NC, WI, and PA spring to mind). Colorado is looking similarly strong.
Cook and Sabato have both these races as "lean-D" and 538 rates the probability of a Democratic win at 80%+. I'm excited about how well this is going! Frankly, I think Arizona and Colorado are doing well enough that your investment in the other races just makes more sense right now.
As for South Carolina, it would be a 2nd Tier priority, but one that no longer needs our money. Jaime Harrison raised a whopping $57 million between July and September; there is no way he can spend all of that money well. Folks just hate Lindsey Graham that much (which also means Harrison will raise more on his own). So I pulled Harrison from this giving page as it's not a good place to invest anymore.
And, where are Alabama and Michigan?
As for the two Democratic incumbents most at risk, I list neither for opposite reasons. In Alabama, unfortunately, given who he is facing (the very popular former coach of the Auburn Tigers), Senator Doug Jones has a very steep hill to climb to win his election (he was down 18 points in the most recent public poll). Cook has this as lean-R, Sabato has it as likely-R and 538 gives Jones ~22% chance (which I think is overly generous as he may be an incumbent, but he barely won against a child molester in the special election).
In Michigan, while Gary Peters is somewhat vulnerable he's not really in danger. Both Sabato and Cook have him at lean-D and 538 gives him ~80% probabilty of a win; plus, the Biden/Harris campaign is running a solid turnout operation in Michigan that will benefit Peters. All of this leads us to the conclusion that the races I've included above are just a better place to invest right now.
* What's going on with Georgia?
There are two Senate elections in Georgia this November.
First, Sen. Perdue is up for re-election as his term is expiring. His opponent in this race is Jon Ossoff. This is a standard election, which means that the voting that happens in November should decide the outcome. However, Georgia does require an absolute majority in its elections, so there is a chance that if 3rd party candidates win enough votes, we could see a Purdue/Ossoff run-off in Janaury. That said, this should be a higher turnout election than a run-off and that benefits Democrats, making this a better chance at a pick-up.
Second, Sen. Loeffler faces a special election to fill the rest of the term to which she was appointed. This operates under different rules and November is, technically, a blanket primary (with 15 candidates declared, though only 3--Rep. Doug Collins (GOP), Sen. Kelly Loeffler (GOP) and Rev. Raphael Warnock (Dem)--are considered serious contenders) in which a single candidate has to win a majority in November or there will be a run-off in January. The odds of any one candidate receiving an outright majority in the special election is extremely low. Furthermore, Loeffler and Collins are ripping each other to shreds right now, while Warnock has consolidated Democratic support. We can expect Warnock to get the most votes, but it is really unlikely he will secure a majority. There will be a January run-off between Warnock and whoever comes in second. The problem in January is that we can expect lower overall turnout, which will favor the GOP in an already tough state for Dems statewide, though head-to-head polling we are starting to see about such a run-off does give Warnock the edge right now.
All that said, we are not looking at a decision in November, so while I will fundraise for any Dems who make it to a run-off, right now, these are lower priority races.
A note on processing fees because I own Democracy Engine (and want to be ethical about disclosing my personal (small) financial interest). Campaign finance law requires that Democracy Engine make money on every transaction (to avoid an illegal contribution to any of these campaigns), but allows it to add its processing fee as a surcharge (so 100% of your donation to each campaign goes to the campaign, which is not what happens on their website or even ActBlue). I've set the fee at 3.5% (0.45% lower than ActBlue deducts, for those keeping track) as that covers the card fees and distribution costs while providing a small profit that fulfills the requirement of the law without me feeling like I'm making money off encouraging you all to give via a page I created.