We have explored the recent historical relationship between open-seat candidates’ rank in total contributions and their success rate in winning their primary outright or advancing to a runoff. Our findings for two-person primary races and primaries involving at least three candidates since 2006 indicate total contributions is a pretty good historical indicator of the candidate’s ultimate success on Election Day.
Our analysis of primary success rates was based on the campaign finance report filed closed to the primary election. Earlier this month, we looked at the open Congressional seats, including a couple of primary races not involving the incumbent’s party, to see how the candidates ranked as of their year-end reports. Since nearly all pre-primary reports have been filed, we take another look at those races to see how the candidates rank entering the primary election.
The biggest takeaway is, not much has changed. Candidates who had the most contributions as of December 31 tended to have the most as of February 14. For each race, candidates are ranked in order of their total contributions, which is the sum of all contributions received between January 1, 2017, and February 14, 2018.
Keep in mind that the percentages shown are historical, based on candidates’ contribution ranks. We do not consider them an actual measurement of the likelihood that a particular candidate will win or advance. Instead, looking across all the races, recent history suggests that about three out of every four candidates in the first column can be expected to win or advance, a little more than half of the candidates in the second column can be expected to advance, and so on.
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