Dems spending more campaign cash against Dems in open primary system

by James Poulos | September 17, 2014 12:47 am

campaign-finance-4[1]Since the advent of the “jungle primary” system that runs the top two votegetters in the general election, Democrats have outspent Republicans when pitted against a member of their own party. That is to say California’s open primary system has caused Democrats to spend more money against fellow Democrats in political races.

The findings, released by Forward Observer, paint a surprising picture of California politics in the wake of the 2012 election changes. By constitutional amendment, Proposition 14 scrapped the traditional party primary system, as citizens embraced arguments that the new approach would help insurgents and better represent voter choice.

A noteworthy byproduct of the open primary system though appears to be that the opponents who spent the most to defeat Democrats in same-party races were fellow Democrats.

Numbers contradict usual assumptions

According to research by Forward Observer, out of 52 same-party races across elections for California’s state Senate, Assembly and House of Representatives, Democrats faced Democrats in 36 contests, while Republicans went head to head in 16 match-ups. Democrats poured $69 million into those three dozen races, while Republican totals reached just over $20 million, according to information drawn from the offices of the state Fair Political Practices Commission and the Secretary of State’s Office, as well as the Federal Election Commission.

Democrats, researchers concluded, outspent or outraised Republicans in same-party general elections by over three times — $3.42 in Democrat dollars for every $1 Republican.

Moreover, independent expenditures on behalf of Democrats well exceeded those made on behalf of Republicans. Elections where Democrats squared off caused almost $20 million to be raised or spent, while Republican dogfights attracted slightly more than $7 million.

The substantial sums represent outlays made over the course of only two election cycles, 2011-2012 and the current 2013-2014 campaign.

2011-2012 cycle not what might be expected

Forward Observer tallied the cash totals at play in each subset of races leading up to the 2012 elections. Research revealed that, among same-party Assembly races, Democrats raised $18.75 million across ten contests, while Republicans raised $8.4 million across seven. In both cases, those figures included independent expenditures.

Among same-party state Senate races, Democrats raised nearly $4 million between Democrats over two races — again inclusive of independent expenditures. (No Republicans went head to head in a 2012 state Senate race.)

During the six same-party contests between Democrats seeking congressional seats, meanwhile, candidates raised over $26 million. Republican candidates in the same situation raised just $6.3 million.

2013-2014: same pattern shaping up

Because this election cycle is not yet over, fundraising numbers have reached lower totals for the same classes of same-party contests. Among eight same-party Assembly races featuring Democrats, candidates raked in $8.4 million, inclusive of independent expenditures, prior to the middle of the month. Republicans facing one another in four same-party Assembly races, by contrast, have raised just over $1 million in total, including independent expenditures.

Regarding same-party Senate races, Democrats once again outpaced Republicans within the same time frame, with a haul of $5.5 million versus nearly $2 million, independent expenditures included.

Finally, in current Congressional races, Democrats have maintained their sizable edge in total funds raised and independent expenditures. Across five same-party contests for Congress, Democrats generated $8 million in funding prior to Sept. 15 of this year. Across two such races, by the same date, Republicans have so far amassed less than $3 million.

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