Money and Democracy

Published — November 9, 2000 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

In Congressional races, money talked all the way to the voting booth


If anyone doubted that huge campaign war chests reap big political payoffs, just look at the House and Senate races this year.

Eighty-five percent of Senate candidates who raised more than their opponents won, and 94 percent of the House candidates who raised more money than their opponents claimed victory, according to an analysis by The Public i.

Collectively, the winners November 7 raised two and a half times as much as their opponents, according to the analysis of October 18 filings with the Federal Election Commission.

These large pots of cash virtually assured victory.

The New Jersey U.S. Senate race was the second most expensive in the nation. Democrat Jon Corzine, a former executive at Goldman Sachs, raised more than $55.6 million, 90 percent from his own bank account. The amount was nine times that of his opponent, Republican Bob Franks.

In the nation’s most expensive race, where Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton defeated Republican Rick Lazio for a U.S. Senate seat from New York, the candidates collectively raised $79.5 million.

House and Senate victors raised 72 percent of the total $786,156,113# in contributions in play this year. Winning Senate candidates raised about 75 percent of the total raised in all Senate races, while victorious House candidates collected 67 percent of the total raised by House candidates.

In U.S. Senate races, five triumphant candidates spent less than their opponents.

In Florida, Delaware, Michigan, Missouri and New York, the losers collectively raised a total of $20.3 million more than their opponents:

Despite spending $7.5 million to gain the seat vacated by Senator Connie Mack, R-Fla., Republican Representative Bill McCollum lost to Democratic state Insurance Commissioner Bill Nelson, who spent $5.7 million. McCollum has been in Congress since 1980.

Analysts estimate that outside interest groups and political party expenditures brought the full spending in the Florida race to more than $20 million. Local newspapers reported that the death blow for McCollum’s campaign was said to be his position as a House impeachment manager.

In Michigan, one-term Republican Senator Spence Abraham lost his re-election bid to Democratic Representative Debbie Stabenow despite outspending her by $3.6 million. Abraham’s campaign raised $10.7 million to Stabenow’s $7.1 million. As in Florida, the Michigan race was inundated with spending by political parties and interest groups.

In the House, 28 newly elected and re-elected candidates raised less than their opponents. One was Republican Shelley Moore Capito, a two-term state delegate who captured the open seat in the West Virginia 2nd district. Democratic trial attorney James F. Humphreys raised $5.2 million more than Capito and outspent Capito five to one. Representative James Rogan, a Republican in California’s 27th district, lost his re-election bid to Democrat Adam Schiff in the most expensive House race in history. Rogan raised $6.2 million to Schiff’s $3.9 million.

The two campaigns sent so much mail that Burbank mail carriers reported working up to three hours overtime daily. Local newspapers attributed Rogan’s loss to expanding socio-economic demographics in his district and his role as a House impeachment manager.

The Public i analysis also found that 97.4 percent of congressional incumbents seeking re-election held their seats. Seventy-nine percent of Senate incumbents won, while 98.7 percent of House incumbents were re-elected. Two years ago, 98 percent of incumbents remained in office.

#These figures will change as soon as the Washington U.S. Senate race has been called. According to media sources, this race is still too close to call.

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