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.