We previously analyzed historical campaign finance data and election results since 2006 to see how open-seat candidates fared in open primary races based on their relative fundraising ranks. Unsurprisingly, we found a strong correlation between fundraising rank and electoral success:
- 77% of candidates raising the most money either won outright (26%) or advanced to a runoff (51%)
- 55% of candidates with the second-highest contribution totals either won outright (6%) or advanced to a runoff (55%)
- 23% of candidates with the third-highest contribution totals advanced to a runoff – none won outright
- 12% of candidates with the fourth-highest contribution totals made the runoff – again, none won outright; and
- Less than 5% of candidates placing fifth or lower in fundraising made a runoff with none winning outright.
In that same analysis, we looked at how the open-seat congressional candidates ranked as of their pre-primary campaign finance reports. Today (Saturday), we look at statewide and legislative candidates.
There are 31 races – 1 statewide, 4 Senate and 26 House – that meet our established criteria for inclusion in this analysis:
- No incumbent in the race
- At least three candidates on the ballot, and
- Race is for the incumbent party’s nomination, or we judged it to be a potentially competitive race for the other party’s nominee.
In nearly half of these races, the top fundraiser raised nearly or better than 3 times the amount of their nearest rival, including the statewide race and all four Senate races.
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The Senate races have four or fewer candidates each, increasing the likelihood that they may be won outright, but the LAND (Likely R) race has eight candidates. Despite Sen. Dawn Buckingham’s (R-Lakeway) better than 16-to-1 advantage in contributions, a runoff appears likely.
In the Senate races, Rep. Mayes Middleton (R-Wallisville) and Kevin Sparks have each raised more than $1M more than their closest rivals for SD11 open (Likely R) and SD31 open (Safe R), respectively. In SD24 open (Likely R), former Sen. Pete Flores’s (R-Pleasanton) $1M contribution total is $700K ahead of Raul Reyes Jr., a gap that got much wider over the past month as Flores out-raised Reyes, $464K to $17K. The closest Senate race, from a fundraising standpoint, is SD27 open (Lean D), where Morgan LaMantia has out-raised Rep. Alex Dominguez (D-Brownsville), $246K to $84K, over the election cycle to date. However, LaMantia has outspent Dominguez by nearly $1M.
The ranges between the top fundraiser and other candidates are generally much smaller in the House primary races. Aside from HD51 open (Safe D) and HD 147 open (Safe D), all the House races have five or fewer candidates. From a fundraising standpoint, the most competitive of these is HD133 open (Likely R)where all five candidates have raised at least $100K and four of them have spent at least $250K.
Eight House races feature a candidate who has raised at least $100K and at least three times as much as their nearest rival:
- HD19 open (Safe R) – Ellen Troxclair out-raised Justin Berry, $497K to $134K
- HD57 open (Likely R) – Richard Hayes out-raised Matthew Haines, $255K to $41K
- HD63 open (Likely R) – Ben Bumgarner out-raised Jeff Younger, $121K to $30K
- HD65 open (Likely R) – Kronda Thimesch out-raised Peyton Inge, $244K to $4K, making it the most lopsided of the open-seat races
- HD70 open (Toss Up) – Jamee Jolly (R) out-raised Hayden Padgett, $253K to $29K
- HD84 open (Likely R) – Carl Tepper out-raised Kade Wilcox, $456K to $80K
- HD92 open (Likely D) – Salman Bhojani out-raised Tracy Scott, $256K to $54K; and
- HD122 open (Likely R) – Adam Blanchard out-raised Elisa Chan, $728K to $103K.
Bumgarner, Thimesch and Bhojani also outspent their nearest rivals by a better than 3-to-1 margin. Jolly has been outspent by Eric Bowlin, $121K to $78K, with Padgett coming in fourth in expenditures ($12K). Tepper has been outspent by the largely self-funded David Glasheen, $674K to $64K, and Tepper was also outspent by Wilcox ($86K). Blanchard has been outspent by Chan, $689K to $392K, and the other two candidates in the race – Mark Dorazio ($306K) and Mark Cuthbert ($278K) – have also spent significant sums.
In most of the remaining races, there are distinct frontrunners from a fundraising and/or spending perspective. In a handful of races, including HD100 open (Safe D) and HD147 open (Safe D), no one has particularly distanced themselves from the field.
If the historical percentages hold, we would expect about eight first-place fundraisers to win outright and about the same number to lose or miss a runoff. A couple of second-place fundraisers would win outright. We would expect eight third-place candidates, two fourth-place candidates and perhaps one fifth-place or below candidate to advance to a runoff.
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