High-Dollar 2014 Primary Elections


It is early in the 2014 election cycle, but already we are seeing spending patterns that shed light on whether some of the many speculations about this year’s political landscape are accurate. So far this cycle, expensive Republican primaries have often featured Tea Party candidates, but for the most part, they have been out-fundraised. Candidate-specific super PACs are providing new opportunities for big donors to spend at far higher levels than candidate contribution limits allow. The Brennan Center’s analysis of quarterly Federal Election Commission (FEC) campaign finance filings in 16 competitive primary races yields data on these and other issues:


(Image: Money vote via Shutterstock)

A large majority of high-dollar primaries are Republican contests: 12 of 16. Within the 12 Republican primaries, at least two-thirds have been identified as having a Tea Party candidate. All but two of the Tea Party candidates included in this analysis have been significantly outraised by primary opponents. In the four  races where candidate self-financing did not play a major factor, Tea Party candidates on average were outraised by a margin of almost 2 to 1, with Tea Party candidates raising just over $650,000 on average and other candidates raising almost $1.2 million on average.

One contest suggests that the crucial role of candidate-specific super PACs in the 2012 presidential election may foreshadow a greater role for them in Congressional races. Candidate-specific super PACs dominated outside spending in FL-19, where virtually all the independent expenditures came from single-candidate groups. The pattern of giving illustrates the concern that candidate-specific super PACs can be vehicles for circumventing contribution limits: three individual donors who maxed out on direct contributions to their favored candidate’s primary campaign also bankrolled single-candidate groups with donations ranging from $160,000 to almost $1.6 million.

In high-dollar races so far, self-financing by candidates is a major factor: 27 percent of money raised came from candidates themselves. In the 16 high-dollar primaries, 12 candidates have already spent $200,000 or more on their own bids, and four candidates have plowed more than $1 million into their campaigns.

Read more…. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/23479-high-dollar-2014-primary-elections


Reprinted with permission