Campaign Finance: Arizona

As the senate race in Arizona moves along, it has become quite evident that, financially, Representative Kirkpatrick had a tall task in trying to out fund raise incumbent Senator McCain. As we know from chapter 6 in “Congressional Elections.” (The Campaign for Resources), incumbents obtain many key benefits throughout their terms in office. This is very noticeable in this particular race considering Sen. McCain has raised over 12 million dollars, while Rep. Kirkpatrick has only raised close to six million dollars. However, Kirkpatrick has obviously gained a large portion of support since she started the race with 0 dollars of beginning cash on hand versus Sen. McCain’s $2,019,177.

On page 200 of Herrnson’s chapter, he states “Incumbents typically begin the election season with more money in the bank than challengers, and they also start fundraising much earlier.” As stated earlier, McCain had a two-million-dollar head start, which proves to be very difficult to overcome for Kirkpatrick seeing as she is still close to seven million dollars behind. Viewing the percentage breakdowns on OpenSecrets, Kirkpatrick has actually raised more funds than the incumbent senator among small contributions, but not enough to cover the separation between large contributions for her and large contributions for McCain. The difference in this category is roughly four million dollars in favor of McCain, which is no surprise due to his long time incumbency status. More specifically, large contributions make up 59 percent of McCain’s funding while only 6 percent came from small contributions which is much smaller than the average 15 percent mention in Herrnson’s reading. (Pg. 194, Congressional Elections). Small contributors make up 31 percent of Kirkpatrick’s campaign funding which is much larger than the previously mentioned average. McCain beginning this race with more than 2-million-dollar advantage over Kirkpatrick gives him the advantage of focusing on large contributors because he does not really need the small contributions.

Senator McCain boast a variety of corporations that have funded him, but his PAC donations are typical of an incumbent. Herrnson states “Incumbents also enjoy advantages when soliciting dollars from individuals and groups motivated by ideology or by emotionally charged issues.” (Congressional Elections, Pg. 200). This proven by McCain’s PAC contributors which is topped by business PACs at $1,270,181 then seconded by ideological PACs at $466,293. Kirkpatrick comes in with much lower numbers than McCain, but her funds are much more evenly distributed among PACs in labor, business, and ideology.

To summarize the financial side of this particular race, it is a classic example of incumbent superiority to a new challenger. McCain is doing much better in this field mainly due to his experience, and other incumbent benefits such as started his campaign millions of dollars ahead. This has not been an even match up for Kirkpatrick since the beginning but she has made a strong effort being able to raise more than five million dollars. Herrnson states “… incumbents raise more money than challengers, and they collect significantly more funds from PACs and individuals interested in directly influencing the legislative process.” (Congressional Elections, Pg. 200). McCain appeals more to interest of these large contributors due to his incumbency status and it will hard for Kirkpatrick to sway these donors as we draw closer to the election.

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2 thoughts on “Campaign Finance: Arizona”

  1. Interestingly, there are obvious similarities between my race in Illinois and this race in Arizona (starting finance advantage among incumbents, large percentage of PAC donations from business PACs). Herrnson provides evidence that “money [does] not buy elections”, but I am curious as whether Kirk and McCain’s significant incumbent funding advantage will alter the outcome of these elections (60).

    Liked by 2 people

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