More Bad News for Dems: Total Total Total 2014 Spending Favored Them (Slightly)
If you’re like me, you’re often frustrated trying to find total (like, total) campaign spending by Democrats vs. Republicans. Outfits like the Sunlight Foundation do yeoman’s duty tallying spending, but you tend to get articles like this that (for fairly good reasons) don’t give you totals, rather breaking it down into campaign/party-committee spending vs SuperPAcs vs 501-whatever “social welfare organizations.”
What’s the bottom line? (Caveats follow.)
The Dems show a slight advantage (in the Senate and overall), but not much beyond the margins of estimation. Given the difficulties of estimation, the two parties spent about the same amounts this cycle on national elections.
To emphasize: this is an estimate. Three are undoubtedly some errors in the spreadsheet, both mine and others’.
(Sunlight had Senate candidates Tim Scott of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, for instance, tagged as a House candidates.) But fixing those errors would likely have little impact on the big picture:
Spending was roughly equal, probably a slight advantage for Dems.
The trickiest part of this estimate, based on Sunlight’s candidate spreadsheet, was allocating attack-ad spending by independent groups. If outside groups opposing Cory Gardner spent $30 million in Colorado (tallied in the spreadsheet on Gardner’s line), I posted that as $30 million “spent” by/for his opponent, Mark Udall. And vice versa. My spreadsheet’s here.
Following are the Senate race-by-race spending totals. You may spot what look like anomalies, and you may be right. I obviously haven’t vetted Sunlight’s data. But if these numbers are close to correct, Democrats can’t claim a money avalanche by Republicans as a reason for the 2014 election results.
|PRYOR, MARK L||26,944,292|
|UDALL, MARK E||51,528,326|
|DE||COONS, CHRISTOPHER A||4,073,446|
|WADE, KEVIN L||123,614|
|GA||NUNN, MARY MICHELLE||18,890,098|
|IA||BRALEY, BRUCE L||36,987,144|
|ERNST, JONI K||38,678,344|
|RISCH, JAMES E||977,987|
|IL||DURBIN, DICK J||8,001,304|
|OBERWEIS, JAMES D “JIM”||2,944,358|
|KS||ORMAN, GREGORY JOHN||9,951,909|
|KY||GRIMES, ALISON LUNDERGAN||26,119,662|
|LA||LANDRIEU, MARY L||14,742,847|
|MARKEY, EDWARD J||16,618,341|
|COLLINS, SUSAN M||4,864,766|
|MI||LAND, TERRI LYNN||19,349,759|
|MS||CHILDERS, TRAVIS W||4,178,607|
|NC||HAGAN, KAY R||62,882,952|
|TILLIS, THOM R||41,752,166|
|NE||DOMINA, DAVID A||1,143,959|
|SASSE, BENJAMIN E||6,100,640|
|BOOKER, CORY A||16,980,057|
|OK||INHOFE, JAMES M||3,232,035|
|JOHNSON, CONSTANCE NEVLIN||542,927|
|LANKFORD, JAMES PAUL MR||3,899,386|
|SILVERSTEIN, MATTHEW BENJAMIN||455,230|
|OR||MERKLEY, JEFFREY ALAN||9,144,950|
|RI||REED, JACK F||2,454,090|
|ZACCARIA, MARK S.||11,916|
|GRAHAM, LINDSEY OLIN||9,602,093|
|SD||ROUNDS, MARION MICHAEL||5,361,460|
|WEILAND, RICHARD PAUL||4,503,048|
|TX||ALAMEEL, DAVID M||10,217,029|
|VA||GILLESPIE, EDWARD W||6,630,569|
|WARNER, MARK ROBERT||13,178,194|
|WV||CAPITO, SHELLEY MOORE||7,918,082|
|WY||ENZI, MICHAEL B||2,486,637|
|HARDY, CHARLES E||82,884|
None of this even glances, of course, at spending on state-level races. Given the condition of our campaign/electoral system and the amount of work it took to assemble these simple numbers, I tend to wonder whether that information will ever be known.
Cross-posted at Asymptosis.
The reasons are discussed in other postings preceding this one. One thing is clear: running away from Obama administration policies and results didn’t work.
How would the spending work looking at just the races the repubs won that swung the senate or the ones either party considered critical?
more than likely, a significant number of the contributors gave to both parties…that way, we get the best Congress money can buy…
@daniel: could copy and paste the senate data into a spreadsheet, choose the races you want, and sum them up. I’d love to see your take. (Oh, I can tag them R & D if you want…)
hey if we’re crunching data why not show the actual turnout in each race… $ per vote. I can’t help wondering what might have been done if that money could have been used for something good.
statistic brain (who knows?) says there are only 151M people registered to vote. So that’s roughly about $10/voter before you actually measure turnout (which I have seen estimated around 20%).
If that’s correct we’re talking about $50/vote. It’s a lot of money. Russ Feingold refused to raise and spend more than $3.8M in his successful 1998 re-election bid (about $1 for every citizen in WI) which got him criticized by other democrats for “putting his seat at risk”. In 2004 he raised and spent $11M however (source wikipedia).
Hey Amateur Socialist I’d love to see that calced. Grab the spreadsheet, I’m sure the turnout numbers are available out there.
Looking at your spread sheet, what is the total receipts vs total contributions?
The link goes to the Sunshine Foundation (a wish granting organization) not the Sunlight Foundation http://sunlightfoundation.com/
Mark: Oops, fixed.
I’m not sure cause I didn’t work with those numbers. I’m guessing it’s total contributions to a candidate’s campaign versus total receipts which includes money from other official committees eg DCCC, RSCC…?
I found this ss of total turnout but it is estimated based on highest office polled (probably the pitiful Abbot vs. Davis race for governor). https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1s2KkvXl4kY6UvC47bksgsJ5kZPoFtdL4L5Roqb0bTJI/edit?pli=1#gid=2072563414
It says 4.75M votes so that’s about $4 vote just for the downticket US Senate race. I’m willing to bet Davis vs. Abbot was at least 2x that not to mention the insane sums spent to defeat infrastructure here. $20 a vote in TX is probably cheap.
For real eye popping numbers check out Alaska: 300K votes for $55M. my calculator says that’s over $180/vote. Arkansas: 875K for $60M, well over $60/vote. Colorado had 2M votes cast for a bargain price of ~92M, around $45 a vote. I got too nauseated to go through the exercise elsewhere.
And this is only the senate races folks. Imagine what the parties could have done to their numbers if they could have just figured out how to give people the cash instead of the corrupt media conglomerates.
Looking at this closely made me wonder what other product is sold at these insane marketing costs. Apple spends a lot on ads but I doubt they dropped $1 to sell my my iPhone 6+. etc.
Tiny little NH was up there at $46M for for a measly 500K voters. $90 a head to become the next senator from New Hampshire.
The There Is No Alternative crowd that loves to repeat “both sides do it, this is the way politics is done now etc.” ought to have to explain why this is a worthwhile use of the public airwaves. Because free markets? lol.
Reminder – these insane ad budgets are crowding out other buyers of the time that could be used to sell corn chips, trucks and toothpaste etc. And ti’s pretty much every election.
Maybe we need some kind of national movement to refuse to vote for any candidate that spends more than $1/vote to get elected. I’d sign it. And yeah I know more democrats would lose. After this election I’m fine with that.