Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Who got the money in 2007?

A few observations on the campaign finances in the 2007 Denver municipal elections.

First, our expectation that people give money to ensure a victory by their candidate just doesn't add up. Look at the below fundraising numbers put up by Mayor John Hickenlooper. Why are people giving in droves to a man who is cruising to victory? Why do his finances skyrocket at the end, with no serious race in sight? Because they want power and access, and for that, nothing's better than a sure winner for the top post in city government.

Then there's the matter of incumbents. In addition to their war chests, they can raise money quickly. Look at the sharply increasing figures for Councilwoman Carol Boigon, who raised nearly $100,000 in just four months:

Then there are the open seats. Here the candidates in Council District 7 (Nevitt, Watters, and Connor) clearly outpaced the field.

Finally, we look at the challengers. How hard is to raise money against an incumbent? Only one breached the $10k barrier.

If donors were largely ideological, new challengers willing to instantiate ideas would gain the most money. But what donors really want is access. So you give money where it's sure to do some good, to those people who are sure to get re-elected. See the below averages for City Council fundraising by incumbents, open seat candidates, and challengers.

Oh yes, and then you bemoan what a terribly boring election we're having. Why haven't we heard any new ideas?

Be a dear and pass another hors d'ourve, won't you?


Gerald Trumbule said...

Thanks for the great analysis.

Richard said...

Carol Campbell's campaign received 26,941 votes and spent $12,199.99 or $0.45 per vote

Carol Boigon received 31,744 votes and spent $85,333.99 or $2.69 per vote.

Doug Linkhart received 41,356 votes and spent $120,345.25 or $2.91 per vote.

Hickenlooper received 67,943 votes and spent $242,982.51 or $3.58 per vote.

Just doing the math off the top of my head, Chris Nevitt spent $23.00 per vote to lead the pack in District 7.

I watched the election returns at Carol Campbell's house last night and we were elated. Why? Because we proved that a grass roots campaign can work. Carol Campbell did not receive, nor did she ask for any special interest money. Carol did not come in third because of a lack of money. We recruited enough hard working people to drop literature in 18% of Denver's precincts, but that was not enough. If we had started in mid-2006 instead of January 2007 and had recruited double the number of volunteers, I believe Carol Campbell would have easily defeated Carol Boigon despite Ms. Boigon's advantages of money and incumbency.

Grass roots campaigning can work. I would rather have a legion of dedicated volunteers than all the money the special interests can give. It is my goal to see that grass roots campaigning will work!

Rick Taylor
Proudly the treasurer of The Committee to Elect Carol e Campbell

Dave Burrell said...

Nicely done, Rick. The analysis in this article would certainly have been far stronger if I had figured out what everyone had spent as opposed to what they had raised.

But since I've only been tracking fundraising, your input was invaluable.

Good campaign and good analysis. It's sad that third place is like kissing your sister, but everyone who supported Carol Campbell really should work towards the campaign reform sponsored by Doug Linkhart earlier this year, in which the At-Large seats would be more clearly defined (i.e., a specific "At Large A" and "At Large B" seat), allowing for direct competition between at-large candidates and runoff elections just as in the district seats.

You (and other underdogs) would have a much better shot, and voters would have a much clearer choice.