WHAT: On Wednesday, March 16, U.S. PIRG will release an update to its report on the success of big-money candidates in congressional primaries. The update will amend the report to include the results of house and senate races in Illinois, Ohio, North Carolina, and Mississippi, showing how often better-funded congressional candidates win their race.
WHO: U.S. PIRG
WHEN: Wednesday, March 16, 11:00 AM
REPORT BACKGROUND: Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, mega-donors and special interest groups have flooded elections, up and down the ballot, with large contributions. In congressional races, fundraising success and the support of wealthy donors, can often mean the difference between winning and losing an election.
As congressional primaries take place in states across the country, U.S. PIRG is tracking the success of candidates running for the House and Senate based on their fundraising returns. On Super Tuesday, Texas, Alabama, and Arkansas hosted the first congressional races in the 2016 election. Based on U.S. PIRG’s analysis of those election results, candidates who raised more funds won their primaries 88 percent of the time.
While the influence of money in our political system extends beyond electoral wins and losses and has an impact on how candidates legislate once they win office, this report focuses on highlighting the electoral advantage provided by a better-funded campaign.
ISSUE BACKGROUND: Polls show that a vast majority of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents support overturning Citizens United and revamping campaign finance laws in the United States. Sixteen states and over 680 communities nationwide have called for an amendment to overturn Citizens United. This year, California and Washington State may put their own referendum on the ballot asking voters whether they support overturning the decision.
In November of 2015, Maine and Seattle voters strongly approved clean election ballot measures to help refocus state and local elections on ordinary people over special interests and mega-donors. Localities including D.C., Chicago, and Los Angeles are now considering similar legislative and regulatory reforms to empower small donors over special interest groups and big contributors in their elections.
U.S. PIRG, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society.