California Secretary of State
1996 General Election:
Campaign Financing for California State Candidates and Officeholders


1995-1996 California Candidates And Officeholders

During the two-year period of 1995 and 1996, all California state candidates and officeholders raised campaign contributions totaling $155.6 million, and they spent $138.2 million.

1995-1996 Primary And General Election Candidates For The California State Legislature

Focusing on candidates for the State Legislature, during the two-year period of 1995 and 1996, all major party candidates in the primary and general elections raised campaign contributions totaling $110.3 million, and they spent $105.7 million.

 

 
Companion
Report
A Companion Report discloses that over $13 million in campaign funds were raised in the eight weeks after the General Election just before the fundraising limits of Prop. 208 took effect.

Graph of History of Total Campaign Costs History Of Campaign Costs: 1975-1996 Primary And General Election Candidates For The State Legislature

Two decades ago, during the election cycle of 1975-76, grand total campaign costs for all primary and general election candidates for the State Legislature amounted to less than $15 million. During the most recent election cycle of 1995-1996, comparable campaign expenditures in legislative races exceeded $100 million. The history of these campaign costs is shown in Chart 1 and Table 1.

 

General Election Candidates For The California State Legislature: History Of Total Receipts, Expenditures and Ending Cash On Hand

Focusing on general election candidates, during the six-month period of July 1 through December 31, 1996, all major party candidates for the California State Legislature raised campaign contributions totaling $53,307,931, and they spent $55,643,715. In addition, after the November 5, 1996 General Election was over, the candidates retained a total of $8,606,023 cash on hand as of December 31, 1996.

The grand total receipts, expenditures, and ending cash for the 1996 legislative candidates set new records of campaign financing in California. The history of campaign financing in California's general elections is shown in Table 2 (campaign receipts), Table 3 (campaign expenditures), and Table 4 (ending cash on hand).

General Election Candidates For The California State Legislature: History Of Average Campaign Costs

Another important perspective on campaign costs is the question of how much is spent by an individual candidate to run for a seat in the State Legislature. In other words, what has been the "average" cost of a legislative campaign over the last two decades? Answers are provided in Table 5 which shows that, in 1976, the average (median) general election campaign cost for a candidate for the State Assembly was $22,064, and by 1996 the comparable campaign cost had risen to $154,883.

 

 

 
Summary Of Campaign Financing For Primary And General
Election Periods

 
History Of Campaign Financing For General Election Candidates For The State Legislature, 1976-1996

 

Graph of History of Total Campaign Costs

Average campaign costs provide insights into important questions related to the role of money in politics. For example, the differences in campaign spending are huge when legislative incumbents are compared to their challengers, as shown in Table 6 and Chart 2. For example, in the 1976 general election campaigns for the State Assembly, average expenditures for incumbents versus challengers were $25,135 versus $9,421, a ratio of less than 3 to 1. In 1996, the comparable expenditures were $268,085 versus $14,943, a ratio of almost 18 to 1.

 

 

Graph of History of Total Campaign Costs

Another important question is the relationship between the amount a candidate spends and whether or not that candidate wins or loses. Table 7 and Chart 3 compare the average campaign costs of winners versus losers, and they show, for example, that in 1976 winners outspent losers by a ratio of less than 3 to 1. In 1996, that ratio had grown to more than 15 to 1.

Table 8 provides the final historical comparison of average campaign costs by Democrats versus Republicans in general election campaigns for the State Legislature.

 

The Report On Campaign Financing For The 1996 General Election

This report by the California Secretary of State focuses on the major party candidates who ran for seats in the State Legislature during California's November 5, 1996 General Election. The period covered by the report is July 1 through December 31, 1996, and the report identifies and ranks each candidate according to three different lists: total receipts, total expenditures, and ending cash on hand. For example, the report shows that the top ten expenditures in State Senate campaigns each exceeded $1 million.

The Report Ranks Each Candidate From High To Low As Follows:

Total Receipts By Each Senate Candidate

Total Expenditures By Each Senate Candidate

Total Ending Cash Held By Each Senate Candidate

Total Receipts By Each Assembly Candidate

Total Expenditures By Each Assembly Candidate

Total Ending Cash Held by Each Assembly Candidate

The report also provides complete general election financing activity for all state candidates and officeholders. This financing activity includes: beginning cash on hand (as of July 1, 1996), total contributions received, miscellaneous receipts (other than campaign contributions), total expenditures, ending cash on hand (as of December 31, 1996), and outstanding debts.

In addition to providing complete campaign financing activity for candidates for the State Legislature, the report shows the financing activity of elected state officeholders who were not candidates in 1996. The report shows that eight non-candidate officeholders had financing activities exceeding $1 million.

The Report's Complete Financing Activity Is Provided For:

State Senate Candidates

State Assembly Candidates (Districts 1-40)

State Assembly Candidates (Districts 41-80)

State Constitutional Officers (not up for election in 1996)

State Senate Members In Even-Numbered Districts (not up for election in 1996)

State Senate Members Not Seeking Reelection

State Assembly Members Not Seeking Reelection

Joint Legislative Committees

See the Preface for a discussion of the methodology used for this report.

Also, the Secretary of State has published a companion report entitled "Supplement to California State Candidates And Officeholders: Contributions Received After November 5, 1996 And Before January 1, 1997."
 
History Of Average
(Median) Expenditures By General Election Candidates For The State Legislature, 1976-1996
 
1996 GENERAL ELECTION PERIOD
(JULY 1 - DECEMBER 31, 1996)


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