Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Incumbent Fundraising Lead Increases

One small story in this election is that the gap between incumbent and challenger receipts continues unabated. While it is unclear whether the increased imbalance has anything to do with the new campaign finance law, it certainly looks as though the BCRA did little to enhance the prospects for challengers.

In races where the incumbent won by less than 60% or more (in other words, races where it wasn't a blowout), the challengers on average raised $894,000 less than the incumbent. This gap has widened considerably since 2002 and 2000 when the spread was $608, 000 and $554,000, respectively. (Data provided by the Campaign Finance Institute)

Democratic challengers appear to be doing worse. In the same set of races, the incumbent Republican outspent the Democrat challenger by more than $1 million dollars in 2004. In contrast, Republican challengers were “only” outspent by Democratic incumbents by roughly $712,000. (The Democratic disadvantage was roughly $496,000 in 2002 and only $387,000 in 2000.)

These are not happy numbers for "second tier" challengers who are usually overlooked by party operatives and other funders. (I'm sure the challengers in the very closest 6-7 races had sufficient funds). The gaps look especially bad for Democrats.

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