Presentation Title

Competitive Districts

Faculty Mentor

Kenneth P Miller

Start Date

18-11-2017 9:45 AM

End Date

18-11-2017 10:00 AM

Location

15-1807

Session

Social Science 2

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

behavioral_social_sciences

Abstract

In the wake of seemingly endless streams of money pouring into politics, it is more important than ever to understand the ways money is used in the political arena and the effects it has. This is true not just on the federal level, but also on the state and local level where donors can often find a large bang for their buck. The current study analyzes campaign finance trends in California state legislative races for the 2014 election cycle. It explores campaign expenditures and independent expenditures across the 80 Assembly races and 20 Senate races, while also focusing on the highest spending districts using data from the California Secretary of State’s Cal-Access database. Each section provides an overview of the spending and analyzes patterns. The study also addresses the question whether spending for a given candidate correlated to winning. The results supported our hypothesis that in the majority of races the highest spender was the winner. Furthermore, the study illustrated the differences in party spending, campaign and independent expenditure spending timelines, and the unique attributes of high spending districts.

Summary of research results to be presented

  • Over $132 million spent on the 80 Assembly and 20 State Senate races

  • 72% of spending was in the form of campaign expenditures (compared to 28% in the form of independent expenditures)

  • Democrat vs Democrat races cost more on average (significantly higher independent expenditures in these races)

  • Democrats on average spent more per candidate than Republicans did

  • Over 60% of spending occurs after the primaries

  • Campaign spending categories: top items are literature and consultants, not media buys

  • Independent expenditures are very concentrated (people make IEs for only a few races and the majority of IEs are made in the weeks immediately preceding the primary and general elections)

  • Independent expenditure groups spent more money to support candidates than to oppose them

  • The most expensive districts tended to be in urban areas, have higher than average turnout, and were Republican versus Democrat races

  • 87% of the time the candidate with highest overall spending won

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Nov 18th, 9:45 AM Nov 18th, 10:00 AM

Competitive Districts

15-1807

In the wake of seemingly endless streams of money pouring into politics, it is more important than ever to understand the ways money is used in the political arena and the effects it has. This is true not just on the federal level, but also on the state and local level where donors can often find a large bang for their buck. The current study analyzes campaign finance trends in California state legislative races for the 2014 election cycle. It explores campaign expenditures and independent expenditures across the 80 Assembly races and 20 Senate races, while also focusing on the highest spending districts using data from the California Secretary of State’s Cal-Access database. Each section provides an overview of the spending and analyzes patterns. The study also addresses the question whether spending for a given candidate correlated to winning. The results supported our hypothesis that in the majority of races the highest spender was the winner. Furthermore, the study illustrated the differences in party spending, campaign and independent expenditure spending timelines, and the unique attributes of high spending districts.