“CFI’s Guide to Money in Federal Elections, 1974-2018”

Release via email about what will be a very useful compilation:

This week marks the tenth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. That decision, together with its offspring, were the major catalysts for a massive growth in independent spending over the past decade.

This week also marks the release of the new edition of CFI’s Guide to Money in Federal Elections. The Campaign Finance Institute (CFI) is a division of the National Institute on Money in Politics (NIMP). The Guide’s co-authors are Michael J. Malbin (CFI’s director and a professor of political science at the University at Albany, SUNY) and Brendan Glavin (CFI’s senior data analyst).

If you want some sense of how much Citizens United has mattered, just turn to page 83 of the Guide. There you will learn that independent spending (IEs) in congressional elections by non-party spenders was 25 times [!] higher in 2018 as in 2008.

And this is only one of thousands of facts in this volume’s essays and tables.

For example, did you know . . .

  • Donald Trump raised more money from small donors in 2016 than Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton combined (pages 33 and 43)?
  • 2018 was the first time in 30 years that successful U.S. House challengers actually spent more than the incumbents they beat (in other years they spent less, page 53)?
  • 2018 was the first time the average cost of winning or keeping a seat in the House topped the $2 million mark (page 11)? 

All this and much more is in the new Guide. It is loaded with tables, many of which reach back decades. The Guide is divided into four main sections: presidential elections, congressional elections, political parties, and independent spending.

This will be exactly the reference politics-watchers will need to give a good perspective on money in the elections of 2020. You can download or view a copy of the full publication here. Any of the tables in the report can be also downloaded as spreadsheet files by using links located under each. Many of the tables present the information in inflation-adjusted dollars. Where they do, the downloaded versions include a separate tab with the dollar figures before adjustment. Feel free to use or republish the tables; please credit CFI/NIMP.

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