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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Primaries in 2014

As part of the primaries project collaboration between the Campaign Finance Institute and the Brookings Institution a joint conference was held on September 30th, 2014. Some of the main findings from the CFI papers are summarized in the bullets below. The full papers are attached and available here.

Michael J. Malbin, “Independent Spending in the 2014 Congressional Primaries”:
  • But there was a major change among the conservatives.
  • 63% of all single-candidate organizational spending in the 2014 Senate primaries benefitted incumbents, vs. only 4% in House races.
  • Evanescent organizations: 281 organizations spent money independently during either the 2012 or 2014 primaries. Of these, only 49 spent in both years while 232 spent in only one. The in-and-out character of IE organizations complicates disclosure.

Robert G. Boatright, “The 2014 Congressional Primaries in Context”:

House primaries:
  • There have been more competitive primary challenges to House incumbents in 2010-2014 than in the 1980s and 1990s, but about the same number as the 1970s.
  • Competitive ideological House challenges increased from 2004 through 2014.
  • For the first time since 2004, the only incumbents to face competitive ideological challenges in 2014 were Republicans.
  • Three of the four successful House challenges were not ideological; the fourth was only partly so.
  • Fundraising by competitive House challengers was higher in the aggregate but – unlike past years – was spread around instead of being concentrated in a few races.

Senate primaries:
  • There was an unusually high number of competitive Senate primaries in 2014 (5), but no incumbent defeats.
  • Unlike the House, the five competitive Senate challengers all showed financial signs of having nationalized their races. This is based on their money from out-of-state donors and small donors. Matthew Bevin (KY) and Chris McDaniel (MS) raised more than $1 million each from itemized out-of-state donors. Bevin also raised more than $1 million in contributions of $200 or less.

The CFI papers will be revised and expanded for future publication.