We recently reported on the unbelievably lopsided campaign spending between entrenched liberal incumbent, Senator Bob Deuell and grassroots activist, Bob Hall in the Republican primary race for Senate District 2. Also, we reported on how this massive spending advantage gave many in the establishment little help in the face of voter scrutiny.
A post-mortem of the March primary’s campaign finance data from a number of notable Legislative races shows that big money in establishment campaigns is the norm. In an average of the races in our analysis, establishment candidates spent 3 times more, meaning they had to raise more. Establishment candidates raised 3 and one half times more, on average.
Of industries fueling the establishment’s special interest money grab, financial service institutions, real estate interests, and pro-gambling groups made up over one-fifth of the special interest PAC money to establishment candidates in races with a conservative opponent.
Other industries contributing to the establishment coffers included the agricultural, construction and manufacturing industries, together accounting for a little under 20% of special interest PAC gifts. Splitting roughly equal parts: consultants, the energy sector and medical/pharmaceutical lobbies totaled around 15% each of special interest PAC gifts.
The most interesting of these statistics is the fact that the average cost-per-vote for any given establishment candidate was two and a half times greater than that of a grassroots candidate. Despite the major fundraising advantage, establishment candidates were at a major cos-per-vote disadvantage.
Out of the 28 races we surveyed, grassroots candidates were outspent by an average of $300,000.00 by an establishment candidate. Despite this massive money advantage, establishment candidates won less than half of these races on election night; with 11 establishment incumbents winning reelection and 4 major upsets by conservative challengers out of the 28 races in our survey.
It seems that grassroots candidates get a “truth discount” when it comes to campaign spending. Substance is cheap, style is expensive, and those who lack the former must buy the latter to make up for it. When establishment candidates can’t run on their liberal records in Republican primaries, look for massive campaign budgets, slick ads, and high-dollar consultants. Most often the candidate with less “sizzle” has more steak.
Conservatives deserve authentically conservative leadership in Austin. Voters in the upcoming runoff elections at the end of May have the opportunity to make sure they are faithfully represented. Get the facts on your candidates and make sure your decision is informed.