Last week, we explored how the success rate of open-seat primary candidates varied with how their contribution totals ranked among their rival candidates. In general, money has been a pretty good predictor of primary success since at least 2006, the first year of our study frame:
- 77% of candidates who raised the most money either won outright or advanced to a runoff
- 58% of candidates who had the second-highest contribution total won outright or advanced to a runoff
- 25% of candidates who had the third-highest contribution total advanced to a runoff (None won outright.); and
- 9% of candidates ranked fourth or lower advanced to a runoff (None won outright.).
Nearly all of the candidates ranked third and lower who advanced to a runoff emerged from larger pools of candidates. Just one of every 20 candidates who had the lowest contribution total qualified for a runoff, regardless of the number of candidates in the race.
Candidates who raised and spent the most money won 25% of the time, advanced 58% of the time and lost or missed the runoff just 16% of the time. None of the outright winners and just 14% of runoff candidates were outside of the top two in both total contributions and total expenditures. Half of all runoffs involved the two candidates who spent the most money.
Today, we examined two-person primary races for open seats and found that money is an even stronger predictor. The candidate with the greater contribution total won 85% of the time.
Our analysis of primary success rates was based on candidates’ ranks as of their 8-day-out (state) or pre-primary (federal) reports. Those reports have not been filed yet this year. With this in mind, today we look at the total contributions for candidates in open-seat primary races for statewide office and the legislature as of the candidates’ 30-day-out reports. Candidates are ranked in order of their total contributions, which is the sum of all contributions reported in all of their campaign finance reports for this election cycle filed to date. For state candidates, these cover contributions received between January 1, 2017, and January 25, 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. Below that, we will look at the two-person races.
Ranked Fourth or Lower
Open-seat Primaries with Three or More Candidates
Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 8
Elsa Alcala is retiring.
as of 12/31
Lance Gooden is running for Congress.
Byron Cook is retiring.
Leighton Schubert resigned.
5th: Daniel McCarthy (C: $300, E: $1,075, COH: $0)
Jason Isaac is running for Congress.
5th: Amy Akers (C: $0, E: $0, COH: $0)
Larry Gonzales is retiring.
Larry Phillips is running for District Judge.
Helen Giddings is retiring.
Christopher Graham and Victoria Watson have not filed campaign finance reports.
Cindy Burkett is running for Texas Senate.
Joe Straus is retiring.
5th: Adrian Spears (C: $8,251, E: $10,494, COH: $954)
6th: Charlotte Williamson (C: $650, E: $54,315, COH: $47,085)
Kevin Roberts is running for Congress.
Open-seat Primaries with Two Candidates
Van Taylor is running for Congress.
Mark Keough is running for County Judge.
Jodie Laubenberg is retiring.
Pat Fallon is running for Texas Senate.
We will analyze the contributions in some of these races and will re-do this report after 8-day-out campaign finance reports are filed (due February 26). We will perform this analysis for congressional open seats tomorrow.
©2018 Texas Election Source LLC