September 22, 2010

State of the Election: 41 days to go

With 41 days until November's election, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how the candidates' fundraising numbers compare. Are the massive amounts of enthusiasm on the Republican side counterbalancing the traditional fundraising advantages enjoyed by the state's three Democratic incumbents? Read through to find out.

These numbers are not as current as I would prefer. The reports are from June 30th and do not reflect recent developments that would give citizens a more accurate picture of the fundraising landscape. However, because the FEC only requires quarterly reports, this is what we'll work with. I'll be sure to update you when the new numbers are reported.

All of these numbers come courtesy of OpenSecrets.org, a great resource for learning about the intersection of money and politics in America. You can check out their Nevada page here.

Here are the results:

CandidateRaisedSpentCash on Hand
Harry Reid (I, Sen)$19,198,455$11,579,202$8,940,302
Sharron Angle (Sen)$3,546,644 $1,778,973 $1,767,671
Shelley Berkley (I, CD-1)$1,908,323 $1,006,632 $1,754,923
Kenneth Wegner (CD-1)$51,179 $50,047 $1,631
Dean Heller (I, CD-2)$1,065,035 $534,137 $664,656
Nancy Price (CD-2)$0$0$0
Dina Titus (I, CD-3)$1,672,143 $546,847 $1,204,552
Joe Heck (CD-3)$603,579 $241,440 $362,138

In each and every race, the incumbent has out-raised and out-spent their challenger by at least double. This reflects a well-known structural advantage of incumbency, namely, the easy access to money. For these reports, it does not appear that GOP enthusiasm has come close to erasing the fundraising advantage traditionally enjoyed by incumbents. But, of course, these numbers only date to June 30th, so the next quarterly report might show something different.

In the Senate race, Democratic incumbent Harry Reid has raised 5.41 times more than Republican challenger Sharron Angle and spent 6.51 times more. Much ink has been spent on this race, so I'll spare you my amateur political prognostications and dive into more depth on Nevada's three House races.

In the Congressional District 1 race, Democratic incumbent Shelley Berkley has raised 37.29 times more than her challenger, Republican Kenneth Wegner, while spending 20.11 times more. A popular Congresswoman in a Democratic stronghold, Berkley is expected to cruise to re-election.

In the Congressional District 2 race, incumbent Dean Heller faces a nominal -- and underfunded -- challenge from Democrat Nancy Price. In fact, as of June 30th, Price had no campaign contributions to report to the FEC. Heller is in many ways the Republican version of Shelley Berkley: a popular Congressman in a very Republican district, his re-election is all but assured.

In the only really competitive House race this year in Nevada, Congressional District 3 finds freshman Democrat Dina Titus battling against former state Senator Joe Heck. While Titus has a fundraising advantage, it is the smallest among her House colleagues in the state. She has raised 2.77 times more than Heck while spending 2.26 times as much. CD 3 is a classic bellwether district. It was represented by a Republican since its creation in 2000 until Titus won the seat in 2008. This is the kind of district Republicans must win if they have any hope of re-capturing the majority in the House.

So there you have it. All-in-all, pretty much what you'd expect. Incumbents are raising (and spending) more money than their opponents, Harry Reid has a large war-chest and CD-3 is going to be a nail-biter.