Outside money plays major role in hotly contested North Carolina special election: Here are 7 numbers to know about the money in the NC-09 race

  • Amisa Ratliff

According to a new Issue One analysis of campaign finance data, roughly $20 million has poured into the special election in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, which voters will decide on Tuesday.

Outside groups — including super PACs and dark money groups — have been major players in the race, spending nearly as much money in the race as the candidates themselves. (The November 2018 elections set a new record for the number of races in which super PACs and dark money groups outspent the candidates’ own campaigns, as Issue One previously reported.)

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) have also spent millions of dollars on ads ahead of Tuesday’s special election in a Republican-leaning part of North Carolina that election observers have rated a toss up.

The race — which is officially the last election of the 2018 midterms — comes after election fraud tainted the results of the November 2018 contest in the district and the state’s board of elections ordered a new election. Republican Dan Bishop, Democrat Dan McCready, Libertarian Jeff Scott, and Green Party candidate Allen Smith are all on the ballot.

Here are some key numbers to know about the money in this election:

  • $20.3 million: The amount that candidates, outside groups, and political parties have invested so far in this election. Of that, $8.1 million was controlled by the candidates, $7.8 million was spent by outside groups, including super PACs and dark money groups, and $4.3 million was spent by the NRCC and the DCCC. 
  • 100%: The percentage of spending by the party committees that was negative.
  • 100%: The percentage of dark money in this race that supports Democrat Dan McCready, with four liberal dark money groups spending a combined $1.6 million. 
  • 29: The number of outside groups — including super PACs, political action committees, and dark money groups — active in this race. The top-spending group — the Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC, which supported Republican Dan Bishop — alone spent $2.3 million, accounting for about 30% of all spending by outside groups in the race.
  • 2.6-to-1: The ratio of campaign cash raised by Democrat Dan McCready ($5.4 million) versus Republican Dan Bishop ($2.1 million).
  • 2.5-to-1: The ratio of money spent on ads by the NRCC ($3.1 million) versus money spent on ads by the DCCC ($1.2 million).
  • 1.4-to-1: The ratio of money spent by other outside groups supporting Republican Dan Bishop ($3.9 million) versus money spent by other liberal outside groups supporting Dan McCready ($2.7 million). 


Numbers based on an Issue One analysis of campaign finance filings submitted to the Federal Election Commission as of the morning of Sept. 9, 2019.

Michael Beckel contributed to this report.