Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

California Midterm Money 2010

If you don't live in California, you're lucky you miss the election year onslaught of political ads. Normally, it's ballot measure ads around the clock, but this time, the candidate ads have been non-stop all year. I thought I'd try to look at some of the ads in a few posts before the election is over, in, um, two days. First though, I thought it'd be useful to look at the money.

The spending has been insane, and in the race for governor, it's been extremely lopsided. On 10/22/10, the Fresno Bee reported:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman spent nearly $23 mil- lion the first 16 days of October, bringing her record-breaking spending total to $163 million for the campaign, according to finance reports filed Thursday.

Democrat Jerry Brown, meanwhile, had spent $14.6 million between Oct. 1 and 16, more than half of the total $25.3 million his campaign has spent this year.

Brown had $11.6 million in the bank for the final push as of Oct. 16, while Whitman reported $12.4 million on hand with about $1.9 million in debts.

Whitman, a billionaire former CEO of eBay, has put $141.6 million of her own money in the campaign. In all, she has raised $173 million.

Brown has raised nearly $38 million for the campaign.

The Senate race between Barbara Boxer and Carly Fiorina is a little harder to tally. From a 10/22/10 article:

Republican challenger Carly Fiorina added $1 million from her personal fortune to her campaign to unseat Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, pouring in money for the final days of a tightening race...

The loan, made Thursday, brings Fiorina's total contributions this year to $6.5 million...

Boxer campaign manager Rose Kapolczynski said Fiorina is using the golden parachute she received when she was ousted from HP "to try to buy a seat in the Senate." Overall, Boxer has raised $26.4 million compared to $17.9 million for Fiorina...

National Republicans have not been so reticent in talking about their plans for the Senate race. They've promised to spend nearly $4.8 million in California in coordination with the Fiorina campaign. Fiorina's efforts are also being helped by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has spent more than $4.5 million on television ads critical of Boxer...

According to quarterly campaign reports filed Oct. 15, Boxer had about $6.5 million cash on hand compared to $1.8 million for Fiorina, who is receiving significant help from independent groups.

Since then, there has been a flurry of spending. Campaign finance reports based on the first two weeks of October show Boxer spent $5.3 million, leaving her with $2.3 million cash on hand.

Fiorina spent $2 million during the same period, leaving her with $1.3 million. Adding Fiorina's latest loan, she should now have roughly the same amount as Boxer.

However, the key difference is outside money. From Southern California Public Radio back on 10/12/10:

The prospect of unseating three-term Sen. Barbara Boxer has led business groups and social conservatives to invest heavily in California's U.S. Senate race over the past six weeks.

About $4 million has been spent on ads and election activities that help Republican challenger Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard Co.

By comparison, outside groups have spent about $121,000 helping Boxer, who started the race with a huge cash advantage in her campaign account.

What about the polls? On 10/27/10, TPM reported:

The new CNN poll of California provides further corroboration that Democrats Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer are on track in their respective gubernatorial and Senate races.

The gubernatorial numbers: Brown 51%, Republican Meg Whitman 44%. In the previous poll from a month ago, Brown led by 52%-43%. The TPM Poll Average has Brown ahead by 49.0%-41.3%.

The Senate numbers: Boxer 50%, Republican Carly Fiorina 45%. In the previous poll from a month ago, Boxer led by 52%-43%. The TPM Poll Average has Boxer ahead by 47.4%-43.4%.

The survey of likely voters has a ±3.5% margin of error.

538 currently has Brown up by 8 points and Boxer up by 6 points. But we'll see come Tuesday. The outside money factor is troubling, and that's a national issue. Transparency on who's funding all those ads would be a big help. Meanwhile, the Mercury News has more on Whitman, her eBay past and her diminishing prospects despite the staggering amount of money she's spent. When the dust has settled, I'll be interested to see if Meg Whitman winds up with an even worse dollar-to-vote ratio than Rudy Giuliani in the 2008 presidential primaries.

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