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Who’s Leading the Campaign Money Race?

Democrat Support for Election Finance Reform is Not About Policy, It’s All About Politics

Campaign finance reports are coming fast and furious, and will continue to for the next several weeks as actual reports from March 31 are dissected and spun. Solid analysis is founded on valid baselines so before we begin poring over the latest reports in upcoming articles, let’s review the baselines from December 31, 2013.

Looking at the charts below, with a focus on the Democrat vs. Republican numbers, a notable item that jumps to the forefront is the faux outrage by Democrats over the recent McCutcheon decision; and their hollow support for campaign finance reform. When viewed through the prism of the considerable advantage Democrats hold, the recent outpouring by Dems can only be considered phony politicking and an opaque attempt to maintain their advantage.

There are certain factors that contribute to a portion of the Democrat advantage. A combination of first quarter reports that have favored some Republicans, and after some upcoming primaries the purging of many GOP candidates that currently are included as active candidates, could have some impact on the numbers. Though it is unlikely the changes will reverse the Democratic advantage and certainly will not support the aforementioned phony politicking by Dems.

The charts all are based on finances as they existed on December 31, 2013 and represent the average numbers for each given group; the first in each chart being all money received, the second being all money received from individual contributions, and the third being all PAC or outside contributions.

Each group is then broken down by all active candidates, incumbents and challengers, and Democrats and Republicans. There are two charts for the US Senate and the US House. The first reflects all races in the respective chamber and the second reflects only the 18 Senate races and 80 House races the Practical Politicking Report considers to be competitive (see Senate 2014 and House 2014).

US Senate – All Candidates

US Senate All Races

US Senate – States In Play

US Senate Races In Play

US House – All Candidates

US Senate All Races

US House – Districts In Play

US House Races In Play

While the data for all candidates, incumbents and challengers (purple, green and orange bars) is provided there is nothing particularly shocking in the numbers. It’s normal, regardless of party, for incumbents to have more total money, and to receive greater amounts by far from PAC’s and outside interests. The value of these baselines will be in simply measuring increases over the next two reporting quarters before Election Day.

However, when viewing the numbers by party there are notable values; and the empirical data that belies the liberal call for campaign finance overhaul as being to the betterment of the democratic process. Those on the left who champion reform do so only secure in the knowledge that previous, and still some existing, laws dramatically favor Democratic candidates.

In the US Senate, Democrats enjoy almost a 2:1 advantage in PAC giving across the breadth of all races and just under a 3:1 advantage in the “races in play”. In the US House, Republicans have a very slight lead in PAC giving across all races but the advantage swings to the Democrats in the “districts in play”.

Without wandering into the soft-money realm too far, suffice it to say that Harry Reid can rail against the Koch brothers all he wants but without acknowledging the infusion of vast sums of money from the likes of George Soros and Tom Steyer, his argument is baseless and lunatic.

Maintaining a focus on the individual campaigns, the Democrat advantage can be attributed to massive amounts of money flowing into candidate coffers from labor unions, environmental organizations and other staunchly liberal givers. The cry for reform from Democrats has nothing to do with policy and everything to do to maintain this advantage.

The other metric at work in the Republican disadvantage is the fractious nature of the party and the monies raised then wasted by the “purity for profit” organizations. Ludicrous operating budgets, irresponsible spending, and the channeling of funds to sub-standard unelectable candidates does nothing but hurt the quality Republican candidates.

If, as it appears in most cases they will, the candidates backed by the radical right lose then the baselines will reflect a better set of numbers for Republicans since the weaker candidates will no longer be active and therefore removed from the analysis. In the meantime, though, the numbers do not lie and they say two things of disparate but equal importance …

Democrats are not truly interested in campaign finance reform as policy rather to preserve their fund-raising advantage; and the aberrations created by the darlings of the “purity for profit” organizations are not helping the Republican Party in any way.

Thankfully the latter will work its way out of the system post-primaries but the former will remain a phony political ploy long after primary season is over.


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Tom Dougherty
About Tom Dougherty 111 Articles
Political data expert and business owner who detests apathy and ignorance but respects accountability and responsibility. The 114th Congress and 2016 election cycle then back to sea racing sailboats and traveling.

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