Thursday, April 22, 2010


Test: Campaign Finance Calculator

This will hopefully be part of a larger and more organized post in the next few days...

Whenever the latest quarterly reports from candidates are reported by the Federal Election Committee (FEC), I really have no clue what the heck is going on. How can raising $2 million in a campaign for Senate in New Hampshire be comparable to $5 million in a campaign for Senate in New York.

So here is what I did. I compiled the finance reports of all Senate races that were rated competitive by the Cook Political Report as of the 1st quarter of 2010. Most of these data are available from OpenSecrets, but I had to fill in some gaps using news reports from the National Journal among others. I collected both cash-on-hand (the amount campaigns have left to spend) and the total amount raised in the campaign for the most likely candidate to win the Democratic and Republican nominations.

But how do you compare between states? I found out the total amount of voters in each of these states in the last midterm election (2006) from a nicely compiled list by Michael McDonald at George Mason University.

I then took the amount of money raised and cash-on-hand and divided each of these by the amount of voters in 06. Therefore, we know how much each candidate has raised per voter in a state. The amount of voters in a state will correlate pretty highly with the amount needed for advertising, direct mail etc. This allows us to know if $5 million raised by a candidate in a large state is really that much compared to $1 million by a candidate in a small state.

I've also included where the race currently stands according to the aggregate or RealClearPolitics, if a aggregate is not available.

Here's a preliminary table... be on the look out for a more substantive post in the future. What you see is pretty simple. Harry Reid is down by a lot, but he'll have a lot of cash to try and make up that deficit. Barbara Boxer, on the other hand, may have over $8.7 million, but that really isn't that much considering how many voters are in California. Luckily for her, Tom Campbell (the likely Republican nominee) can only spend around 12 cents per voter right now (that number should go up if he wraps up the nomination).

Either way, it is just another way to look at fundraising. On the left side is the regular fundraising just toggle to the right to see money per voters. Also feel free to stretch out the columns to read their full names. This post is still preliminary, but I like getting things out there.

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