100 days out, the campaign finance storylines of Florida’s elections are taking shape

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The 2014 General Election is less than 100 days away and the campaign finance story lines are  taking shape.

We analyzed Florida’s 2014 election cycle state level candidate and committee fundraising activity so far and then compared it to the activity of the 2012 and 2010 cycles through the same time periods.

The candidate and political committee statistics contained in this memo account for data through the P2 report which ended July 4, 2014. The State Party statistics, however, account for data through March 31, 2014. The State Parties do not report again until August 22nd.

The most notable observation is the significant increase in total money raised this cycle compared to 2012 and 2010. State level candidates and committees have raised a total of $276 million so far this cycle. That’s up $119 million over the 2012 figure and up $73 million over that of the 2010 figure. There are two anomalies that need to be considered however to have a more accurate perspective of how this cycle compares in particular to the last gubernatorial year of 2010.

First, Governor Rick Scott had already given his campaign $44 million by this point four years ago. So the 2010 total is inflated by the Governor’s contributions to his own campaign. In November 2013, a newly adopted law went into effect prohibiting Committees of Continuous Existence (CCE’s). Many CCE’s and some Electioneering Communication Organizations (ECO’s) transferred their balance’s over to the newly constituted Political Committees (PC’s). In some cases, because of the transfer, the money is essentially counted twice. We estimate that approximately $40 million of the 2014 total is double counted transfers.

To account for the inflated numbers in each cycle, it could be fair to subtract each amount from each respective cycle’s total. For 2010, the $204 million total raised minus the Governor Scott $44 million leaves a total of $160 million. For 2014, the $276 million total raised minus the transferred $40 million leaves a total of $236 million. It is nearly a wash between the cycles when the adjustments are made. In any case, there is approximately $76 million more raised so far this cycle than at the same time in the 2010 cycle.

Rick Scott vs. Charlie Crist

Not all money raised by the state parties will be used in the Governor’s race, but a lot of it will so we included it in this comparison. Currently, Governor Scott and the RPOF have a $46 million fundraising advantage over Gov. Crist and the FDP.

Cabinet – CFO, AGR, AG

The Republican candidates for CFO, AGR and AG are essentially matching the money they each raised in 2010; both CFO Jeff Atwater and Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam have taken in approximately $2 million while Attorney General Pam Bondi has raised $1.4 million toward her 2014 re-election. The Democrat candidates for Cabinet offices however are barely registering.

State Parties – PTY

The state parties figures show perhaps the greatest contrast in trends, not just between the Republican and Democrat Parties, but also when comparing this cycle to the gubernatorial year of 2010.

The Republican Party is up $10 million over that of its number four years ago, raising more than $30 million through the end of March 2014. The Democrat Party, however, is down almost $3 million from its 2010 performance at the same time.

State Senate – STS

Only half of Florida’s 40 Senate seats are on the ballot this year, the even-numbered seats. The incumbent is seeking re-election in all twenty seats, sixteen Republicans and eight Democrats. Eight Republican Senators were elected at qualifying without opposition.

Except for potentially SD 34 (Sachs v Bogdanoff), an overall lack of competition has led to anemic Senate candidate numbers; Senate Republicans have raised $5.7 million while Senate Democrats have taken in $752K. The $6.5 million total raised by 46 Senate candidates this cycle is just 50% of $13 million raised by 110 Senate candidates in the 2012 cycle.

State Representative – STR

Together, State House candidates have raised almost $17 million; which is more at this point than either of the last two cycles, besting 2012 by $1.3 million and 2010 by $900K. Interestingly however, fewer candidates withfewer contributions are responsible for the performance. There are 306 house candidates this cycle and together they have received 45,886 contributions. In 2010, there were 389 candidates who received almost 60,000 contributions. This necessarily means a higher average contribution amount. The new, increased contribution limits are undoubtedly contributing to the higher average.

On the whole, Speaker Designate Steve Crisafulli’s team of House Republican’s are out-raising their Democrat counterparts by a 3:1 margin and are up a total of $500K to the 2010 & 2012 total amounts, taking in $12.5 million so far. Democrat House candidates are up $500K however to the 2010 amount, and up nearly a $1 million to the 2012 total amount. House Democrats typically don’t have much to brag about when it comes to fundraising, but this is impressive particularly in light of the Democrat numbers overall – in every other category Democrats are significantly off the pace set in the 2010 and 2012 cycles.

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