# Is money THE single most important factor in getting elected these days?

Guido Fawkes is reporting that the Tories outspent Labour by £7.5M last year and still lost their majority.

You sorted the data so that all of what you are looking at is winners who spent a lot of money, and losers who spent nearly nothing. If you sort the data by “Spending Ratio (Ascending)” you get the opposite picture: winners who spent substantially less than losers.

But let’s also get real: with the exception of the presidency and governorships, the most compelling single fact of whether or not someone wins election to an office is whether they are an incumbent or not.

(I exclude those two types of offices because the term limits for such offices means there are so many more open seats over a period of time, and fewer incumbents as compared to legislative elections.)

Well, yes… but if you scroll down to the bottom of that list to see the low spending ratios, it’s just over a page, total, of winners who underspent their opponents. On the other hand, above that point, there are over 23 pages of winners who outspent their opponents. That looks like a pretty strong correlation, to me.

EDIT: On the other hand, that’s also showing over seven pages of losers who spent \$0. Now, I know that occasionally, you’ll get someone who runs and spends nothing, as a stunt, but that looks like an awful lot to me.

There are 435 entries on the table. Eliminate the entries where one party spent less than \$100,000, and you’re down to 136 seats that are in the general territory of competitive.

Of those 136 seats, seven of them were between two candidates that spent very nearly the same amount of money. Fifteen of them were won by the lower spending candidate. And of course 114 of them were won by the higher spending candidate.

Wow! Sounds convincing! So is that the whole story?

No.

Out of the 136 seats, 27 were open seats. Of the open seats, ten were won by the lower spending candidate, and one was a race where the spending was about equal.

Out of the 136, 8 incumbents lost their seat. Three of those seats were won by the lower spending candidate, and two incumbents lost where their challengers spent about the same amount of money. In only three races did the non-incumbent winner spend more than the incumbent loser.

And of course, out of the 136 competitive races, 101 were won by the incumbent.

Then flip over to the Senate list. 34 seats were open, of which I’d say 20 were competitive, for the most broad definition of competitive. One of those seats featured roughly even spending, and four with winners spending less than losers. Two incumbents defeated, one spending the same as the challenger, one spending more than the challenger. Five open seats, two won by the candidates who spent less.

So what’s the upshot on all this? Incumbents raise a lot of money whether they need it or not, and whether they win or not. But when you narrow down to the really competitive races, whether open seats or where incumbents managed to lose, spending doesn’t seem to be the decisive issue. You’re just being fixated on all the incumbents who have a lot of money and win.

If it were most important she would have most likely faced Bush. Maybe in a mild money primary upset Cruz, Rubio, or Carson who all raised more than Trump.

Sliding back to the OP, not specifically Chronos, without a quote to redirect:

While there’s a lot of research showing money matters how see a lot of debate. There is a notion that money has diminishing returns. Enough money to mount a credible campaign seems to matter a lot. Past that point, it matters less as more money goes up.

The cite above suggests one possible side effect of some campaign finance limitation proposals - strengthening the position of incumbents. A study of Brazilian elections supports the notion that fundraising is more important for challengers. It also points to a similar effect with it being more important for female candidates. (It’s not just a matter of less well-represented women not being incumbents in Brazil. The effect is still statistically significant for women incumbents below their federal level.) It’s a study in Brazil with different a culture and political structure. Still, it’s important to at least consider the notion that challengers, women (and possibly other underrepresented in office demographic groups IMO) really need more money to be successful.

Another problem is the old mistake of assuming correlation equals causation; in this case a common argument is that the money causes electoral success. Reality seems to be a lot more complicated than a simple causal relationship. Quoting the introduction of the last cite:

Campaign finance is a complex system. Trying to answeer a simple question like the thread title runs real risks of oversimplifying. I won’t call it THE single most important factor. Just the multidirectional causality minimizes importance to an extent; part of the money difference is likely an indicator not a cause of eventual electoral success. Having enough money to mount a standard campaign is probably the most important factor IMO. If you are a challenger, especially from an underrepresented demographic, having more than that is important. Raising more than typical campaign costs doesn’t help incumbents very much and they overwhelmingly have enough. For them I’d say it’s pretty clearly not the most important factor. (Restricting opponent access to funds is probably more important to incumbents.)

I would assume factors like the partisan index of a specific district or state, or the political tides (Which party is energized or demoralized) are bigger factors.

The only reason a democrat won in Alabama is because the political energy is for the democrats, and Moore was a horrible candidate. Take those away and it would’ve been a GOP blowout like always, and Jones isn’t going to win re-election despite being an incumbent anymore than Scott Brown won re-election due to being an incumbent.

According to the Cook voting index, there are only 21 house districts that are R+1, Evenly split, or D+1. Beyond that you’d expect the incumbent to pretty much always win because one party or the other has more power in that district.

Money matters, but how it’s spent matters more.

Image is everything. Spending that creates an image that appeals to the voters counts more than untargeted spending.

(Captain Obvious reporting for duty!)

Bernie Sanders had little money and he gave Hillary a run for her money. It helped she was the star of the democrats. Damn it! It was her turn!

I dont think Obama had much money when he first ran (and also beat Hillary). But what he did was have youth, energy, and hungry desire to win. He later talked how much time he spent in Iowa (to beat Hillary) and went to every fish fry and fair to win over voters.

Yes, also his color and his wife and cute kids helped.

Hey that ought to be another thread. Could a person who is single with no kids or spouse win? Hillary tried to use the now adult Chelsea (big fail). I remember one race somewhere, I dont remember where, where a single woman running for governor used her nieces and nephews.