Comparing state legislative fundraising from 2018 to 2020

The value of money in state-level politics extends beyond purchasing power. Campaign cash allows candidates to promote their message and turn out their voters, but perhaps more importantly, it may represent momentum. While having the biggest campaign account is no guarantee of success at the polls, studies conducted by the Center for Responsive Politics and the Campaign Finance Institute found a strong correlation.

As part of Ballotpedia’s partnership with Transparency USA, we took a closer look at how the two major political party candidates for state legislatures in nine states—Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin—performed with fundraising in a cycle-vs-cycle comparison from 2018 to 2020.

Semiannual reports in each state during the 2020 election cycle show the following:

• Arizona: Republican candidates for the Arizona State Legislature had raised $5.4 million, while Democrats had raised $4.2 million. Similarly, Republican candidates had raised on average $51,490, while Democrats had raised on average $48,450.
• Florida: Republican candidates for the Florida State Legislature had raised $20.6 million, while Democrats had raised $9.8 million. Similarly, Republican candidates had raised on average $108,513.51, while Democrats had raised on average $37,424.07.
• Michigan: Democratic candidates for the Michigan House of Representatives had raised $5.3 million, while Republicans had raised $4.8 million.
• Minnesota: Democratic candidates for the Minnesota State Legislature had raised $2.8 million, while Republicans had raised $1.9 million. Similarly, Democrats had raised on average $11,874, while Republicans had raised on average $8,577.
• North Carolina: Republican candidates for the General Assembly of North Carolina had raised $13.6 million, while Democrats had raised $12.4 million. Similarly, Republicans had raised on average $68,376, while Democrats had raised on average $59,545.
• Ohio: Republican candidates for the Ohio General Assembly had raised $14.9 million, while Democrats had raised $4.4 million. Similarly, Republicans had raised on average $101,326, while Democrats had raised on average $34,807.
• Pennsylvania: Democratic candidates for the Pennsylvania General Assembly had raised $22.8 million, while Republicans had raised $14.4 million. Similarly, Democrats had raised on average $86,702, while Republicans had raised on average $64,587.
• Texas: Republican candidates for the Texas State Legislature had raised $28.3 million, while Democrats had raised $24.9 million. Similarly, Republicans had raised on average $152,953, while Democrats had raised on average $119,046.
• Wisconsin: Democrats had raised $3.3 million, and Republicans had raised $3.2 million. On average, Democrats had raised $20,547, while Republicans had raised on average $21,640.

The direct comparison between fundraising data from 2018 and 2020 is limited by at least two factors. First, the same seats and offices were not necessarily up for election in both years. For example, Michigan held elections for both chambers (the state Senate and House of Representatives) in 2018, but only for the state House in 2020. Second, additional offices on the ballot in a year might affect the amount of money raised in state legislative elections. For example, among the states studied, Florida, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin all held gubernatorial elections alongside their state legislative elections in 2018 but not 2020.

For overviews on all nine states, including comparisons to 2018 fundraising, click the link below:

 




About the author

Cory Eucalitto

Cory Eucalitto is a managing editor at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

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