Monday, August 30, 2004

Incumbents Enjoy Big Fundraising Advantage in Arizona

As John Kamman of The Arizona Republic reports, four members of Congress are facing unusually stiff opposition in their primaries this year. In this history of the state, no incumbent member of Congress has lost in the primary. Ever.

Despite these races being close, the incumbents still have at least one thing going for them - a fundraising advantage of anywhere from three to one all the way up to ten to one over their challengers.

There is not necessarily a clear-cut advantage to democracy in getting rid of incumbent elected officials. What is clear is that allowing big donors to give money in chunks of $2,000 to candidates or $5,000 to political action committees diminishes the voice of a large percentage of the electorate who can't afford such contributions.

Currently the candidate who spends the most in a congressional race wins more than 90% of the time. We'll keep an eye on the Arizona primary to see whether the pattern holds true or whether voters in Arizona break the hold of big money on their congressional elections.

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