Does The Candidate With More Money Win The General Election?

Continuing on the theme of fishing for interesting statistics about past elections, let's talk money.

The connection (or lack thereof) between fundraising and winning a party's nomination has been examined at length. Instead, I'd like to focus on the general election. The question is simple: Does the candidate that raises more money win the general election?

As we all well know, campaign finance is a murky subject, and it only gets murkier the farther back in time you look. I was able to compile data on gross receipts back through the 1988 election, and I've linked to my source in the data below. Here are the findings:

Democratic Candidate
(Gross receipts)
Republican Candidate
(Gross receipts)
Winner
(Receipts difference; % difference)
John Kerry
($328,479,245)
George W. Bush
($367,228,801)
George W. Bush
(+$38,749,556; +11%)
Al Gore
($132,804,039)
George W. Bush
($193,088,650)
George W. Bush
(+$60,284,611; +31%)
Bill Clinton
($41,697,305)
Bob Dole
($57,840,610)
Bill Clinton
(-$16,143,305; -28%)
Bill Clinton
(~$71,000,000)
George H.W. Bush
(~$62,400,000)
Bill Clinton
(~+$8,600,000; ~+12%)
Michael Dukakis
(~28,500,000)
George H.W. Bush
(~$31,800,000)
George H.W. Bush
(~+$3,300,000, ~+10%)

Though there is scant data to work with, the pattern is pretty clear. Candidates who raise more money usually win the general election, Bill Clinton in 1996 being the only upset in recent history.

This bodes well for the race against John McCain. Currently, both Democratic candidates have been raising more cash than McCain and McCain looks like he's moving closer to accepting public financing on the heels of the petition Jane Hamsher and 31,000 others filed against him with the FEC. With the McCain campaign almost shutting down months ago due to money woes and his current cash deficit, it is unlikely Republicans will out-raise Democrats this cycle.

If that is indeed the case, the money stats say that Democrats should win the White House this fall.

The opinions expressed by J Ro are his and his alone. They do not reflect the opinions of any other person or organization.

Tags: 2008 election, John McCain, Money (all tags)

Comments

22 Comments

Re: Does The Candidate With More Money Win The Gen

The story of Mccain itself should serve as an example.

He was flat broke and he still won the nomination.

you are going to need more than money to win.

by lori 2008-04-05 01:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Does The Candidate With More Money Win The Gen

If money is the best argument Obama has then he is in a world of hurt...

by DTaylor 2008-04-05 01:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Does The Candidate With More Money Win The Gen

Remember, this doesn't apply to the primary. There have been quite a few high profile cases of candidates outspending but still losing the primary. I'm only talking general here.

by J Ro 2008-04-05 01:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Does The Candidate With More Money Win The Gen

"If money is the best argument Obama has then he is in a world of hurt..."

At the moment it is Hillary that has the most general election money so your suggestion that Obama is in a world of hurt is not a very good fit for this diary.

(but people should be free to try hammer away  trying to put large square pegs into small round holes)

by My Ob 2008-04-05 02:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Does The Candidate With More Money Win The Gen

Just so you know, you missed the point...

by zerosumgame 2008-04-05 03:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Does The Candidate With More Money Win The Gen

Well, I assumed the point was something along the lines of Senator Clinton is better than Senator Obama. If that was not the point I certainly missed it.

(of course, there is a possibility that you missed my point)

by My Ob 2008-04-06 12:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Does The Candidate With More Money Win The Gen

no, you still misses it. the point was simply tossing more money in a race is not really what the measure of that candidate is or should be. the fact that you cannot grasp that, or that it was referring to the GE mainly and thus to McSame only shows you to be a RW troll.

by zerosumgame 2008-04-06 11:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Does The Candidate With More Money Win The Gen

I thought everyone that disagrees with you is a troll, Zero. According to the trusted user list, you've almost got the most TRs of anyone on this site... interestingly, all on Obama supporters. Odd coincidence, wouldn't you say?

by ragekage 2008-04-06 05:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Does The Candidate With More Money Win

There is also a certain chicken-and-egg issue here: Does the candidate who raises the most money win, or does the candidate most likely to win raise the most money? If one candidate looks to be the likely winner, that could be the impetus for the big $$ types to make sure they contribute to that campaign.

by Alice in Florida 2008-04-05 01:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Does The Candidate With More Money Win

Of course correlation and causation warnings apply. It's hard to say, especially from such little data.

by J Ro 2008-04-05 01:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Does The Candidate With More Money Win The Gen

You left out Ross Perot and Mitt Romney...

by DTaylor 2008-04-05 01:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Does The Candidate With More Money Win The Gen

wow... look at that gap from 1996 to 2000...

almost 100% increase

by theninjagoddess 2008-04-05 02:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Does The Candidate With More Money Win The Gen

Well, the influence of money on campaigns is a completely different story. But yeah, scary...

by J Ro 2008-04-05 02:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Does The Candidate With More Money Wins

Another good reason to nominate Obama, to keep his powerful donor base engaged in the G.E.

by Lefty Coaster 2008-04-05 02:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Does The Candidate With More Money Win The Gen

Jesus, this argument is lame.

Really, if you have only five data points in your analysis, and one is a counterexample, you got nothing.

What's the probability that in 5 coin tosses, there will be a sequence of 4 to 1 or 5 to 0 or 1 to 4 or 0 to 5? 10/32, or very close to 1/3. From this you're going to presume to deduce something?

by frankly0 2008-04-05 02:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Does The Candidate With More Money Win The Gen

Ha. You used probability, and I used logic to refute this. Glad someone else kind of found it ridiculous.

by apolitik 2008-04-05 04:43PM | 0 recs
Plus Gore won in 2000

I know he did not become President, but he got over 500,000 more votes and won Florida.  

by bosdcla14 2008-04-05 03:21PM | 0 recs
you sure about 1996?

because Bill Clinton and Dick Morris raised an insane amount of money from soft money sources very early in that campaign, and used it to demolish Bob Dole. Nobody thought Dole was gonna win.

by DiamondJay 2008-04-05 03:33PM | 0 recs
Re: you sure about 1996?

I could be wrong. The numbers I got were from the source I linked to, but if you've got other data, I'm very interested in seeing it.

by J Ro 2008-04-05 03:41PM | 0 recs
I just can't picture that

Bob Dole was dead in the polls since mid 1995 http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1996/poll s/cnn.usa.gallup/050996.shtml#clinton.do le and bottomed out in early 1996. I just can't picture Bab Dole raising money for Bob dole, especially because Pfizer hadn't come out with Viagra yet

by DiamondJay 2008-04-05 04:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Does The Candidate With More Money Win The Gen

I'm sorry, but I can't believe this is a front page post. In the realm of philosophy, specifically LOGIC, we'd call this a weak inductive argument.

There is no direct or even REAL correlation besides a nifty coincidence that the candidate with the msot money wins.

by apolitik 2008-04-05 04:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Does The Candidate With More Money Win The Gen

No correlation worth noticing. If there was a link between margin of victory and money advantage, then you might be on to something, but as it is there's almost nothing you can do with this.

by Englishlefty 2008-04-06 05:50AM | 0 recs

Diaries

Advertise Blogads